Three dogs and a 19-year-old woman survived a house fire in Long Island thanks to a group of brave and heroic firefighters from Islip, Suffolk County. For their efforts, the firefighters were given this year's ASPCA Public Service Award.
The horrible scene unfolded on July 17 when the Islip Terrace Fire Department, Islip Fire Department and East Islip Fire Department received a 911 call about a house fire where one person and three dogs—two Siberian Huskies and an Alaskan malamute—were trapped. Arriving at the address, firefighters saw the massive fire breaking through the windows into the first and second floor. The firefighters—all volunteers—were able to break the basement window to bring the woman and two dogs to safety. One dog was able to escape on his own.
But not everyone was in the clear just yet.
Discovering two of the dogs were unconscious and barely breathing, the firefighters immediately began chest compressions and cooled off the dogs with a fire hose. The dogs were in such bad shape, no one was sure if they'd survive. One dog was still on fire when he was carried out of the house.
Two of the firefighters performed CPR on each dog, breathing into their mouths while delivering chest compressions to provide fresh air. They also gave oxygen through one of the firefighter’s self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)
Filled with adrenaline and emotion, the firefighters were relieved when all the dogs responded to treatment and were able to stand on their own.
“We did not leave those dogs' side until that one dog—Luna—stood up on her own power,” Ryan Lowe, volunteer firefighter at Islip Terrace Fire Department, said. “The crowd was screaming, cheering and crying. It was very emotional because I honestly didn't think that either dog had a chance. It was incredible to see them come back to life right in front of your very eyes.”
The dramatic rescue was captured on video, inspiring people nationwide.
The rescued woman suffered smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning but is thankfully ok. And all three dogs survived their ordeal thanks to these firefighters’ skill and quick thinking. The collaborating departments—who serve more than 14,000 residents combined— acted not only on their duty but also on their deep compassion for people and animals in need.
“You couldn’t save much in that house, but we were able to save the young woman and the dogs,” Lowe said. “It was very emotional because none of us thought either of the dogs had a chance, and it was incredible to see them come to life right in front of our own eyes. There’s always that slim chance that we can get them back and we’re never going to give up.”
The ASPCA Public Service Award
This heroic act of bravery for animals didn't go unnoticed by the ASPCA. This year, the animal rescue organization presented all three fire departments with the 2022 ASPCA Public Service Award. The public service award is one of several humane awards the organization gives out each year to heroes from across the country for their outstanding contributions to animal welfare.
“Our 2022 ASPCA Humane Award winners demonstrate the impact of combining compassion and commitment to assist animals in need, as well as the power of the human-animal bond,” Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA, said. “We’re proud to honor these outstanding and inspiring animals, people, and organizations who share our mission to support vulnerable animals and those who care for them.”
Interestingly enough, one of the hero firefighters who had done CPR on the dogs was only trained two months prior to the incident through his role as a police officer. He never thought he'd have had to use that skill so soon, if at all, the other firefighters noted.
Other 2022 ASPCA Award Recipients
The Long Island firefighters were presented with the ASPCA public service award at the organization's awards luncheon in NYC on Oct. 12. Other ASPCA humane award winners this year are:
Kid of the Year: Delanie Dennis (Tampa, FL)
Cat Advocate of the Year: F.O.R.W.A.R.D.–Feline and Offenders Rehabilitation with Affection, Reformation and Dedication. (Indianapolis, IN)
Dog of the Year: Clementine (Cedar Hill, TX)
Equine Welfare Award: Detroit Horse Power (Detroit, MI)
Henry Bergh Award: Dr. Jon Geller (Fort Collins, CO)
There's still no word on what started the house fire that day. But after the incident, the dogs were treated at the vet, and the firefighters are happy to share that all three dogs returned to their owners safe and sound.
Main image: Getty Images for the ASPCA