TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) -– Talk about man’s best friends and a reunion that nearly never happened.
Three dogs reunited with their owner in Tampa on New Year’s Day. The pups were nearly killed in a house fire almost two weeks ago, while their owner was at work.
For the last 13 days, Alex Rodriguez went to the Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners visiting Cache, a 2-year-old German shepherd; Cyl, a 1-year-old chow mix; and Emma, a 7-year-old Jack Russell Terrier.
Rodriguez, who is a U.S. Air Force Senior Airman, said he’s incredibly grateful for the lifesaving care his dogs have received since they arrived at BluePearl on the night of Dec. 18. In addition, Frankie’s Friends pet charity has raised more than $10,000 to help pay for treatment.
“They’re doing amazingly well,” said Rodriguez, who lost everything in the fire at his West Carmen Street rental home. “It’s a complete turnaround from the night I first brought them in.”
While at BluePearl, all three dogs received emergency oxygen as well as antibiotics to ward off pneumonia. The dogs were all healthy enough to leave the hospital’s intensive care unit by Dec. 28, but Rodriguez needed to find a new home.
But after all of these days of his visiting his dogs, today is different. Rodriguez took them home.
“I didn’t think I was going to walk out of here with all 3 of them,” he said
Rodriquez went to work that fateful day and came home to his apartment ravaged by flames and full of smoke.
”Terrible,” he said about finding the fire. “I mean I didn’t think anything like that could ever happen to me. I was completely, I felt lost.”
Lost because as soon as he opened the door, he could barely see anything since smoke had filled the house and the dogs had severe smoke inhalation.
“They were bad enough that two of them nearly needed to be put on a breathing machine,” said Dr. Lauren Harris of Blue Pearl.
Two of the three dogs could have died and that realization brought the seasoned airman to tears.
“I, I broke down a lot,” with tears coming to his eyes. “I’m not ever emotional or anything.”
It would take nearly $25,000 worth of care, but a community came together with the non-profit organization “Frankie’s Friends.” It’s money that Alex didn’t have.
“Got a new home,” he said. “Got all the dogs taken care of. Just an amazing feeling. A new start for the new year. A great way to start the year.”
From here, the dogs will undergo a couple of check-ups and even a spa day.
FRankie’s Friends continues to raise money to help Rodriguez. Those interested in contributing can click here.
“I can’t tell you how thankful all of us are,” said Rodriguez. “It’s crazy to see how many people came together to help save us. None of this would be possible without them.”