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IAFF Fire Fighters Receive PETA Compassionate Award

April 5, 2007 – Fire fighters answer the call in all types of emergencies – hazardous materials spills, medical emergencies, swift water rescues and terrorism threats, among others – and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is recognizing three IAFF members for coming to the aid of man’s best friend.

The PETA Compassionate Fire Fighter award was given to Greeley, CO Local 888 member Dale Lyman; Denver, CO Local 858 fire fighter Tony Padillia Sr. and Detroit, MI Local 344 fire fighter Matt Schaecher.

In Greeley, Colorado, when a dog named Taz fell through the ice on a frozen pond, Greeley Local 888 member Dale Lyman heard the commotion while off duty. Although bystanders had already called 9-1-1, Lyman stayed until Engine 7 arrived with the proper gear to rescue the dog.

Local 888 fire fighter Frank Villa went into the water with a life line attached to him. Once he had Taz, fire fighters Kevin Jelden and Rod Eitel pulled him safely back to shore.

“Because we have ponds in many of our parks, it is not unusual that we save one or two dogs per year,” says Lyman. “It really is a hazard in our community, for both people and animals. That is why it important for us to keep up with the training.”

Similarly, in Denver, Colorado, fire fighter Tony Padillia Sr. came to the rescue of a black Labrador, Pearl, who fell through the ice on a lake in the northwest Denver.

“This happens quite a lot when the ice starts to melt in the spring,” says Padillia. “The dog owner’s initial reaction is often to try to go after the pet themselves, but it is always best to call the fire department. We have the equipment, training and staff to do it safely.”

In Detroit, Michigan, Local 344 member Matt Schaecher has rescued more than his fair share of animals, including in the Gulf Coast with the Michigan Animal Rescue League and the Animal Care Network following Hurricane Katrina.

“We made quite a few trips and saved more than 250 animals,” says Schaecher, who helped post their pictures on the web for hurricane victims to reclaim their pets. Those that went unclaimed were eventually put up for adoption.

Schaecher also rescued a dog during a report of a car fire. “When we responded, we found the car with some burning clothes in the trunk,” he says. “But, when I looked up, I saw that someone had hung the dog by a chain, doused her with gasoline and set her on fire. She now lives with me and has recovered remarkably well. I call her Angel.”

Schaecher works as a cruelty investigator for a local humane society in his time off. In that capacity, he rescued a dog that had been kicked off a porch by its owner. That dog also now lives with Schaecher; his family calls him Chocolate.

To learn more, visit the PETA web site.

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