A puppy burned in an Oregon house fire was adopted by a fire chief

Two days after a fire burned a rental home to the ground in Brookings, Ore., Aubrie Krause was at the scene conducting an investigation.

She heard a small whimper coming from beneath a trailer near the charred remnants of the home.

Krause, a deputy fire marshal for the state of Oregon, crouched down to get a closer look and saw a frightened puppy hiding. She knew that no people were injured in the Feb. 28 fire, but three dogs had died. She also learned that there were four unaccounted for puppies that might have survived.

She figured the whimpering puppy was one of them, and coaxed the pup out, giving her a granola bar from her pocket.

Krause began looking around the property for the other puppies when she spotted a little black dog high on a hill between two trees.

As Krause approached, her heart sank.

“I could smell burned flesh, and his little puppy pads were burned off,” she said. “He had burns on his stomach and his back, his tail was singed off and his left eye was puffed over and shut. It was heartbreaking.”

Krause gently put the pup in her truck and called Jenifer Alcorn, executive director of the South Coast Humane Society in Brookings, to tell her about the puppy. She nicknamed him Smoky. A neighbor temporarily took in the other pup until she could be reunited with the family, she said.

“I took him over [to the shelter] and they cleaned up his eye and patched up his pads,” she said.

Krause was not able to locate the other two missing pups but later learned the puppies were away with the family at the time of the fire.

The injured three-month-old pup, a lab mix, would need to spend several weeks healing at the shelter. Smoky’s owners lost all of their possessions in the fire at the two-story home and could not care for the pup, they told her. The community has rallied to help the family through a GoFundMe account that has brought in more than $10,000 so far.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, and the renters did not respond to a request by The Washington Post for an interview.

The family decided to keep the healthy pup that Krause found, but they said they were not able to care for Smoky, Krause said.

She thought about taking in Smoky herself, but she already had three dogs at home.

Then she thought of someone who wouldn’t be able to say no to Smoky’s sweet face.

Krause texted photos of Smoky to Corey Bryant, volunteer fire chief for Greenacres Fire & Rescue, which is in adjoining Coos County, and told him about the trauma the pup had been through.

Bryant, 41, said he instantly wanted to adopt Smoky. He thought the dog would be a good fit with his 6-year-old Labrador, Sadie, and his two children would also enjoy playing with the puppy.

“I knew I had to have him,” he said. “I was so sad he’d been burned, and I could tell he was a sweet dog.”

Bryant’s hunch was confirmed when he drove to the Humane Society shelter to meet Smoky.

“He crawled out of his little kennel in his bandages and curled up on my lap to snuggle with me,” he said. “I knew that was it. My heart was full right there.”

On March 24, when a veterinarian determined that Smoky’s wounds were on the mend and he was no longer under threat of infection, Bryant returned to the shelter to take the pup home. Fox 12 Oregon covered the heartwarming adoption.

“He’s not on pain meds or antibiotics anymore, and he’s doing great,” Bryant said. “He’s an active little pup who loves to play and get biscuits from the coffee shop.”

Bryant said he gives Smoky regular baths with medicated shampoo and applies ointment to his burn wounds daily.

“He’s got a large bald spot on his back that’s slowly filling in, but he’s no longer in pain and he’s super personable to everyone who comes up to pet him,” he said.

The puppy’s cheerful personality will soon be put to good use, Bryant added, explaining that he plans to train Smoky as a fire prevention dog.

“My goal is to incorporate him into fire prevention programs at schools, and I’d also like to get to the point where he’s a certified service dog,” he said. “I’d love to take him to a children’s burn center and a children’s cancer center in Portland.”

Until then, he’s happy to take his pup to community barbecues, and he allows Smoky to have the run of the Greenacres firehouse, Bryant said.

“Everybody loves him, especially me,” he said. “He’s healing up fast and he’s adjusted really well, considering what he went through. I feel really lucky to have him.”

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