Rottweiler survives California wildfire, reunites with family

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KERN COUNTY, Calif. (KGET) — After California’s Stagecoach Fire engulfed their home, the Smith family said it was difficult to find hope.

Wendy Kraus-Smith, her husband, Kevin, and their four boys were left with the clothes they were wearing as 20 years of memories turned to ashes. They also thought their dog, Mr. T, had died in the blaze.

“I felt glad that we got out of there, but I honestly felt failure in my heart that I couldn’t get him out,” said Wendy Kraus-Smith.

However, 24-hours later, alone and in the dark, Mr. T was pacing the scorched earth where their house once stood.

“This is the first time I’ve been smiling in a few days,” said Kraus-Smith. “Honestly, my cheeks are a little sore.”

The family had spent the night at a hotel in Bakersfield, California, while Mr. T was waiting for his family to come back home.

“I couldn’t even fathom that he could live overnight in all of that destruction,” said Kraus-Smith. “There was just such a relief from all the kids and myself, and it was just like instantly, like okay. All right. He made it. This is good. We can make it too, you know. This is the family’s back together again.”

Despite suffering a severe case of pneumonia from smoke inhalation, the resilient Rottweiler is now recovering at Breckenridge K-9 Resort. Resort owner Lisa Bell has set up a Gofundme for the family.

“It’s just so miraculous,” said Bell. “It brings tears to my eyes.”

Kraus-Smith says she’s counting the days until the family can rebuild their mountain ranch so she can reunite her children with their furry family member.

“I definitively can say he’s supposed to be part of my family, the resiliency of this dog is echoed in my family,” she said. “We’re just grateful that our family is finally together again.”

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