Firefighters, community members care for abandoned dogs after fire

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by Jayson Chesler

Video reports by Jason Volentine and Jill Galus

Posted on July 1, 2014 at 9:46 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 1 at 5:27 PM

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Firefighters going above and beyond the call of duty might be expected in the Valley, but members of the Glendale Fire Department are still able to show just how hard they will fight to protect life, even when the fires have been put out.

The fire department cared for two abandoned dogs for roughly a week, returning to the backyard they were kept in with food and water multiple times a day. The dogs were left after a fire, which appeared to be started by a car exploding in a house's garage, destroyed the home their owner lived in.

Community members from around the neighborhood the dogs were left in also contributed to the dogs' care, making it truly a community effort.

The dog and home owner, Sandra Catalan, is a single mother with four children. Catalan said that holding her family together, including one of her sons who has autism, throughout the loss of her home left her unable to care for the dogs.

"We lost everything and it's really hard," Catalan said.

The Glendale Fire Department is only a few blocks away from the burned home and the two dogs, so firefighter Michael Young said the staff there saw it as part of their job to take a role in this potential community crisis.

"It's something fire departments pride themselves on, taking an active role in the community on and off duty," Young said. "I think that the public has come to expect it, which I think is a great thing because we always rise to the occasion."

After approximately a week of the dogs being stuck out in the heat, a local organization stepped up to find the dogs a more permanent home. Catalan surrendered her ownership of the animals and the Fetch Foundation, a pet-saving non-profit, arrived to take the dogs in and find them a new owner.

Gail Buch of the Fetch Foundation said that the efforts made by the fire department and community members to care for the dogs were nothing short of heroic.

"They're absolutely the community heroes," Buch said. "I think it should be commended that the neighbors have stepped up, and they also shared with us that they were calling other organizations to get their help."

Both dogs will be transported to the Arizona Animal Welfare League, where they will be evaluated and adopted out. For more information about the Arizona Animal Welfare League, visit their website.

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