The only injuries reported in a devastating house fire in the 900 block of Mississippi Street on Friday were suffered by a four-legged resident named Riley.
The 2-year-old golden retriever was in the house, along with two cats, when the fire broke out. None of the house’s three residents were home at the time.
“He lost all of his pads on his feet … he’s got third-degree burns on his thighs and side, his head was pretty burnt up,” said David Szczucinski, Riley’s owner. “I was pretty hysterical, I would say, as any owner would be.”
With his cell phone on the fritz, Szczucinski called out for help getting his dog to an animal clinic. A neighbor phoned a friend, who quickly agreed to help.
Anthony Barnett picked up Szczucinski and Riley down the street from the burning house and rushed to Gentle Care Animal Hospital at Sixth Street and Kasold Drive.
For the effort, Szczucinski calls Barnett a hero.
“I was definitely hoping that I didn’t get pulled over because I thought that would make the situation a lot worse,” said Barnett, who owns Home Sweet Home Dog Resort, 2140 Haskell Ave.
Along with his other injuries, Riley’s throat and lungs were affected by smoke inhalation. Szczucinski says it’s a miracle Riley is still alive, but the medical bills are a harsh dose of reality. Just three days later, Riley’s bills had risen to more than $3,500.
Szczucinski and the home’s other two residents have received help from the community in dealing with their losses in the fire, and now Szczucinski hopes a benefactor for Riley will step forward to help the dog continue on his road to a full recovery.
Anyone who would like to make a donation can contact the Gentle Care Animal Hospital at 841-1919.