'We had to carry him out': Swansea firefighters revive yellow lab found in burning home

News-DemocratJune 25, 2013 

Swansea Firefighters pushed and pulled an unconscious yellow labrador retriever out of a burning home on Bassen Drive early Tuesday morning and saved his life.

The dog, Auggie, was found unresponsive on a bathroom floor where he was confined when firefighters searched the home at 4069 Bassen Drive just after 2 a.m. Tuesday.

When firefighters arrived they found the two-story home filled with heavy smoke and fire visible on the first floor. The Northwest Fire Department assisted Swansea in extinguishing the fire.

No one but Auggie was home at the time of the fire, according to Swansea Fire Chief John McGuire, and the fire is considered suspicious.

The Illinois State Fire Marshal Arson Division and the Swansea Police Department are investigating the cause of the fire. McGuire said the fire had multiple points of origin.

"We had to carry him out and he didn't look like he was with us at all. He's a big dog, between 80 and 100 pounds. One guy was dragging him and one was pushing him," McGuire said of the dog. "We gave him some oxygen and dribbled some water into his mouth and called the vet."

The oxygen mask used to revive Auggie, which is specially designed for use on animals, was donated to the department in 2009 by the fundraising organization Helping Animals find Loving Owners. Roni Aguirre, president of HALO, said the group donated three sizes of the masks to area fire departments. HALO held fundraisers and used donation money to purchase the masks, which cost $55 per set.

"The only other way to resuscitate a dog is mouth to nose and we just thought this was a much better way to resuscitate an animal that needed oxygen after a fire," Aguirre said. "The masks are designed for an animal's face for a better seal. We donated the masks in the hopes that if they ever had the unfortunate need to use one, they would have it."

Auggie was the first dog to benefit from the use of the mask by the Swansea Fire Department, McGuire said.

McGuire visited Auggie at the Lashley Animal Hospital in Swansea around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

"I couldn't believe it was the same dog from seven hours before," McGuire said. "He was on a leash and he jumped all over me."

Fire crews left the scene at 7:15 a.m. and no injuries were reported.

The home sustained smoke damage and some content loss, but had no significant structural damage.

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