ALAMEDA, Calif. — A little over five months ago, a Chihuahua puppy mix that was only a few weeks old was left at the Antioch Animal Shelter. He appeared to have been possibly abused and tortured, as he was suffering from chemical burns on his ears and stomach.The puppy needed to have his ears amputated because of the severity of the burns. But, he was a fighter and has been healing over the past few months, earning the name “Fireman.”
This past week, the rescue organization Umbrella of Hope (UOH) shared the most joyous news— Fireman has found his forever home. They wanted to make sure he found the perfect home and received help when local news station KTVU inquired about potential families at local hospitals and burn units. A 12-year-old girl named Chloe Levensen-Cupp, who had also suffered burn injuries, was recommended, and the match couldn’t have been more perfect. The little girl said that it was amazing to find a companion who knew what she had been through and they would help each other heal.
With the good news being announced, we reached out to UOH to find out more about Fireman’s adoption and his journey. Natalie, a spokeswoman for the rescue, gave me some insight. For most of his rehabilitation, Fireman was fostered by Kristy Keusch, who was a volunteer with both the animal shelter and UOH. She hadn’t fostered before, and probably didn’t have any experience with burned dogs, but she was the perfect match for Fireman. In terms of Fireman’s health moving forward, his physical injuries have healed, but UOH knows that his emotional scars will need to continue to be managed. They took him to a Veterinary Behaviorist, Dr. Meredith Stepita, who has been working with them since May. In that time, Fireman has made amazing progress and will continue with follow-up care as needed.
The person(s) responsible for Fireman’s injuries have not been brought to justice, despite UOH offering a reward of $1,000. At one point, donors had matched the funds to the reward being $5,000, but the police department and Crime Stoppers failed to follow up in regards to setting up a reward account. The $1,000 remains in effect, but only until the statute of limitations remains. While UOH is thrilled that Fireman and Chloe were the perfect match, and that Fireman garnered so much media attention, to them he was no different than the 500 other animals they rescue every year.
They received thousands of requests to adopt him, and were hopeful that enthusiasm would translate to adoptions of their many other animals, but the response hasn’t been what they hoped for. This is what Natalie wants you to take away from Fireman’s story: