COBB COUNTY, Ga. – As firefighters battled a blaze at an Austell, Ga., home, they also rescued 26 dogs, including six puppies.
Now, those dogs need homes.
The fire department responded to a call they received at 9:23 a.m., Friday, August 22, reporting a fire in the basement on Cherokee Trails Drive, off Mulkey Road. The first unit arrived to the single-story, brick home witnessed smoke coming from the basement.
All 11 residents, four adults and seven children, made it out of the house as emergency personnel arrived on the scene.
But, the Cobb County Fire Department's firefighters would be in for a surprise after the fire was extinguished. They spotted several dogs in pens in the backyard, and called animal control.
“After we extinguished that fire, he went to the front door and he could hear whining,” Denell Boyd, Cobb County Fire Department spokeswoman, said.
To the firefighters who rescued the canines, it didn’t matter to them that they weren’t human, they had a job to save lives.
“That's somebody's family member. A lot of people, all they have are their pets. We will rescue any animal any time that we need to,” she said. “That's our job is to risk our life for another life. And this was a lot of little lives in this situation. But firefighters are always very proud of rescuing any life.”
Four of the dogs have died and five have been adopted—but now, the remaining dogs need another hero, or several, before it’s too late.
The homeowners signed over possession of them--giving animal control the right to adopt them to new homes. The adults are ready, but the puppies are not quite ready for adoption. The adults might be a challenge.
“They're adults, which is really, difficult because most of the time people want little puppies,” Boyd explained.
But, there’s another obstacle.
Cobb County Animal Control is housing the dogs, many of which are considered “bully breeds” like pitbulls, to the county’s shelter.
The problem with that, Jason Flatt, founder of Friends to the Forlorn Pitbull Rescue, said, is it’s harder to find homes for dogs of a certain breed.
And, he doesn’t want to see any more die.
“Rescues are full; pounds are full. It's an ongoing problem, pet overpopulation is severe,” Flatt said.
“There's no other way but to euthanize those dogs, and the only other solution is to give them away to people. You give them away to people and they end up in the same situation.”
It’s a cycle of blame, he said.
“People blame the pounds; it's not the pound's fault. We, as a society, fail these people continuously,” he argued. “It's sad. It's really sad.”
“It doesn't matter how these dogs get into the pound, their story, their background, if they were abused--it doesn't matter how they get there; they all die the same way,” Flatt said.
There are currently 17 dogs who still need to be adopted from the animal shelter, before they are euthanized.
“There's a home for every dog. Finding the right home, that's another story,” Flatt said.
If you’d like to see all of the dogs up for adoption, including Ozzy, a Staffordshire bull terrier photographed to the right, click here.