The firefighters were told a dog was still in the house, but the flames were spreading quickly. Why would he have refused to leave when his life was clearly in danger? They got their answer when they finally reached him, and suddenly, it all made sense.
The dog in question is Leo, a little terrier cross with the heart of a lion. In fact, when a fire broke out at his family home in 2008, he proved just how brave he was. When the disaster struck, Leo was in the house with his humans.
To be more precise, Leo lived in Melbourne, Australia, and shared his home with another dog, Barney, and four people. Leo’s human mommy and her three children were disturbed one evening when the house caught fire. The cause of the blaze isn’t clear, but it started in the living room.
Regardless of its origins, chaos ensued as the fire spread, and it quickly became life-threatening. However, the humans managed to escape the blaze, taking Barney with them. Unfortunately, though, they couldn’t save everyone; they were missing some other furry family members.
Among the missing was the family cat and their beloved Leo. The dog remained in the burning building and refused to leave. Naturally, the family were worried sick for their absent furbabies.
Their worries continued to escalate until firefighters arrived on the scene to battle the flames. Since Leo was still trapped in the house, a team of rescuers was sent in to retrieve him. But the firefighters had a challenging task ahead of them.
Not only was finding Leo a problem for the rescue team, but reaching him was also an issue. When they finally discovered the tenacious terrier, he was unconscious on the floor. The firefighters had to run a gauntlet of dangers to save him.
Besides the licking flames, firefighters had to avoid a number of fallen power lines in order to reach Leo. News outlet Associated Press reported on the rescue on October 27, 2008. “By the time firefighters got to [Leo], he was unconscious, suffering from smoke inhalation,” it explained.
Furthermore, rescuers realized there was a reason why Leo remained in the burning building. He was standing guard over something precious to him. In fact, Leo’s behavior had been an act of incredible loyalty and bravery – he was trying to save lives.
Leo’s rescuers discovered that the little dog had refused to leave the house because there were kittens inside the building. He was found lying next to the litter, as if he was using his own body to shield them. Consequently, Leo succumbed to the smoke himself.
The firefighters whisked the prone dog and the kittens out of the blaze. Although Leo was out of the fire, he still wasn’t out of the proverbial woods. The fire service’s Ken Brown told Associated Press what happened in his own words.
“Leo wouldn’t leave the kittens, and it nearly cost him his life,” Brown said. “But luckily, firefighters found him very early.” If the rescue had been much later, then, Leo might have died. Furthermore, rescuers were instantly attentive to their animal patients.
Brown told Associated Press how his crew gave Leo oxygen and “successfully resuscitated him.” Not only was the canine hero saved, the kittens were also rescued in the nick of time. Not everyone was so fortunate, though; the fire took its toll on one of the family.
One of Leo’s human siblings – a girl of 11 – inhaled too much smoke as she left the building. However, paramedics attended to her and took her to hospital as a precaution. The firefighters stayed with the other victims during the aftermath.
“We had [Leo] checked out, and he has a clean bill of health; he looks really well,” Brown said. Although no one was seriously hurt during the disaster, the fire service revealed the family wasn’t properly prepared. As a result, it made the job harder for the emergency services.
On October 25, 2008, Brown told the Herald Sun that a lack of functional smoke alarms put more lives at risk. “A proper working smoke alarm and an evacuation plan equals a safer escape,” he explained. Additionally, there was a lot of property damage.
As a result, the cost of repairs was put at a sobering $115,000. On a happier note, social media users never pass up on a heart-warming animal video, and they couldn’t get enough of Leo’s heroics. Since its upload, the Associated Press YouTube video alone has been watched a million times.
It’s easy to see why too; after being rescued, Leo couldn’t stop licking the rescued kittens. And in case you’re worried about the kittens’ mother, she was also found unharmed in the disaster’s aftermath. Naturally, YouTube commenters also had a lot to say about the story.
“Thank goodness for animal altruism, for those (plentiful) times when the milk of human kindness runs thin,” one person commented. “That was so sweet of that dog to do that,” another wrote, “what a hero.” Leo certainly proved his love and dedication to his family.
And let’s not forget the bravery shown by the firefighters who risked their lives to save the animals. The family involved were lucky no one was hurt in the incident, but there’s something to take away from their mistakes. Always make sure you have a working fire alarm; it could save your life.