Hot dog! We have a winner!
Jacksonville’s now nationally-famous firehouse dog won the “Today” show’s “Perfect Firehouse Pooch” contest and will have a cameo appearance in an upcoming episode of NBC’s drama hit show “Chicago Fire”.
Smokey was rescued from a house fire about four years ago when she was 8-weeks-old. Her handler, Jacksonville Fire Lieutenant Todd Warrick, entered her into the contest in August. Producers selected Smokey as one of their top 3 dogs among hundreds of entries. After an online public voting contest, Warrick says Smokey garnered more votes than her competition in Indianapolis and Los Angeles.
“On behalf of the Jacksonville Fire Department and Smokey, I want to say thanks to everyone who voted for her and supported her,” says Warrick. “She received over 51 percent of the votes. There was almost 70,000 votes total which NBC Universal was very happy with that.”
Warrick says he did phone interviews with NBC affiliates across the country last week, but it was the Jacksonville that propelled Smokey to win ‘top pooch’.
“There’s been some bad things that have happened in this community and this is one thing that was very positive that brought the community together,” says Warrick. “She received more votes than the residents of Morgan County.”
In 2009, Jacksonville Fire Captain Beth Kershaw carried Smokey out of the burning home and Jacksonville Police officer Olivia Mefford provided the animal with CPR. Firefighter Jim Williams says he then applied a pet resuscitator the department received just a couple weeks earlier.
“When Beth carried Smokey out she was pretty much lifeless, limp and one of the police officers started CPR,” says Williams. “We put the oxygen mask on her and another police officer helped take over working the dog while we finished with the fire.”
Smokey lives at the Jacksonville Fire Department Sub Station.
The fire department kept the dog after its owners said they couldn’t afford the veterinary expenses. Williams says firefighters nursed Smokey back to health and now she’s an important part of the department.
He says the department takes her to schools across the city to teach kids how to stop, drop and roll.
“Here’s a dog that almost died in a fire and now she’s gotten recognition,” says Williams. “She helps teach kids about fire safety. She may not know exactly everything that’s going on, but she’s going to get a cameo appearance in the show. I think it’s great for the community.”
Warrick says Smokey will be flown to Chicago for a taping of “Chicago Fire” sometime before next May.
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