APACHE JUNCTION, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- Firefighters in Apache Junction found themselves treating a puppy who suffered smoke inhalation from a fire earlier this week.

[HELMET-CAM VIDEO: Superstition Fire & Medical crew saves puppy who suffered smoke inhalation after a fire]

On Monday, a fire broke out at a building near Val Vista Road and Fourth Avenue in Apache Junction.

Crews from the Superstition Fire and Medical Department were able to douse the flames and make sure everyone got out safely.

Capt. Dustin Farber said his crew arrived shortly after the first incoming unit, and helped with the main fire on the rear end of the house. Before they proceeded to go inside the home, the homeowner said he believed everybody was out except for his puppy. 

"However, he was very erratic and upset, as you can imagine," said Farber. "And we didn't feel that we were getting the best story from him." 

This caused Farber and his crew to do what they normally do to make sure all victims were out of the fiery home.

In the initial search, the crews didn't find anything.

Then one of the firefighters said they heard something.

"As we were exiting, firefighter Leon said he heard a puppy crying in the back room," said Farber.

The back room was the most affected by the fire. With half of the wall burnt down, they made excess into the room. There was fire in the attic above the room and on the floor below.

"We decided to go ahead and use whatever water we had left. After we tackled the fire, cooled the conditions, we went back in one last time to make sure," Farber said. "We did hear the puppy whining in the back corner."

The puppy was wedged in between the exterior wall where the whole wall was burnt down except about the last six to eight inches right at a mattress frame. The mattress top covered the puppy.

"His voice was muffled, but he was just getting enough air around the bottom corner," said Farber. "So we slid him out and we were able to hold him, cuddle him and protect him on the last bit of air we had."

The 4-day-old puppy had suffered smoke inhalation.

One of the SFMD firefighters, Engineer Ryan Ledbetter, had his helmet cam on as crews treated the pup with a Fido Bag.

A Fido Bag is a specialized breathing apparatus that uses a cone-shaped oxygen mask designed to fit over a pet's muzzle.

The Fido Bag was almost too big for the tiny patient. His entire head practically fit inside the mask.

This was the first time Farber used the Fido Bag outside of training simulations. 

"Using the kit for the first time was very seamless," he said. "It's set up very commonly like the non-rebreather mask for adults. The actual function and use behind it is no different than an adult or child."

Crews could also be seen pouring water on the puppy to keep him cool.

But we're happy to report the pup is doing just fine.

Farber compares saving a puppy like that is almost like saving a kid.

"I guess in my mind, it would be more similar to a young child in the emotional sense," he said. "We look scary. They don't recognize our sights, our sounds, our packs, our gear. We make a lot of noises. They can't see our face. So it's scary and dramatic no matter how young or old you are." 

The puppy is now with the homeowner, and the Red Cross has assisted them with shelter at a local motel.

Farber added that the homeowner had a major loss a year ago.

"The individual who was the owner of the puppy lost his father a year ago, and he really expressed this dog was all he had left," he said.

Thank you to the SFMD crews for helping the little guy survive his big ordeal.

The Fido Bag came from a Cave Creek-based nonprofit organization called The fetch Foundation. For more information or to sponsor a Fido Bag, check out thefetchFoundation.com.

 


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