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Buddy the hero dog turns into poster child for fire prevention

by admin default ~ May 28th, 2010

HERO DOG— Ben Heinrichs and his German Shepard “Buddy” are working with the troopers and the state fire marshal to hold fire prevention talks across Alaska. Photo by Diana Haecker

The danger of fire is on everybody’s mind these days with wildfires wreaking havoc all across Alaska. The state fire marshal may have just found the right poster boy to get the message of fire prevention across. It’s a courageous canine named Buddy who made headlines in spring. KTNA’s Diana Haecker has this story.

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Transcript of “Buddy the Hero Dog…”

Do you remember Buddy, the  five-year old German Shepard who saved his owners house when he guided a state trooper to the blaze? The story of Buddy’s heroic actions made international news and the state troopers together with the state fire marshal are gearing up to take Buddy on the road for educational fire prevention presentations.

Here is what happened on April 4 at Ben Heinrichs house in Caswell.

Ben Heinrich: I was out in the shed working on my truck parts and some gas ignited, it splashed on the heater and ignited, and i ran outside to get the fire off me. And I ran back into the shed to get my dog out. Grabbed the gas can and got my dog out. And then we were running to the house and I was like, we need to get help.

Buddy ran off, the shop fire threatened to spread to the nearby house. Trooper Terrence Shanigan lives in the area and he got a call for help on his cell phone. However, the exact location wasn’t clear and as he was trying to find the fire, Buddy showed up at an intersection and literally guided him to the burning shop. Trooper Shanigan took it from there:

Terrence Shanigan: Buddy eventually greeted me at the intersection of the road, and that’s where I saw him kinda walk towards me with a casual type of a gate.  And he looked at me and then started running. I just decided to follow at that point.

A month after the blaze, troopers honored Buddy with a special ceremony and attracted the attention of international media outlets.  Trooper Shanigan spoke with Fox news.

TS: That springboarded to all the major networks; NBC, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, BBC, and then a station in japan that covers the entire nation.

Soon enough, Shanigan got swamped with letters.

TS: Then we also started to get fan mail and people didn’t quite know how to reach us. I was getting stuff in my box addressed to the Heinrichs and Buddy, care of Trooper Shanigan and the Caswell area.

Police departments across the nation took notice of these reports and schools requested Buddy to come for a visit.

TS: Buddy has created an opportunity for us to bring his celebrity. We’ve had a lot of requests from western Alaska, from the Anchorage area, from places out on the east coast already, to have him and Ben and myself to go out there and give these messages. And I think Buddy brings the audience and it opens the door for Ben and I to share the message of fire safety and public safety.

Chronically understaffed volunteer fire departments may benefit from Buddy’s fame.

TS: Volunteer fire departments are very important to the success of our communities and they don’t always get the respect or the recognition for a lot of the work that they do. It often comes back to troopers or in some cases focused on Buddy. And I think Buddy is a great opportunity to bring their message out to the for them and share that.

As for Ben, Buddy’s owner, he decided to become part of the volunteer department.

BH: I’ve been to a couple of the meetings, I’m just waiting for my hand to heal up so that nothing really happens to it.

And Ben’s father, Tom Heinrich had this to say to the Talkeetna, Willow, and Sunshine fire departments.

Tom Heinrich: Thank you gentlemen, without your help and assistance we may have lost our house. So thank you for promptly responding.

Click here to read the April 23rd story on Buddy

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