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The Dalmatian has long been synonymous with firefighters, almost as much a cliché as sliding down a fire pole.

The history with Dalmatians goes back to the 19th Century when fire departments’ rigs were pulled by teams of horses. Dalmatians proved to be perfect partners, their barking clearing the way through traffic and to guard the horses. Often skittish at the sight of fire, horses would be distracted by the Dalmatians’ presence.

Dalmatians are no longer omnipresent at fire halls. But a devotion to dogs is widespread among firefighters. Hence a current campaign in which members from Huntsville Fire & Rescue are helping promote an adoption program called Rescue Me: Fire Dogs, by Huntsville Animal Services.

Pets interrupt awkward silences in houses. They make fun activities even more fun.” — DeWayne Morris

Meet the four Huntsville firefighters who are dog lovers and a part of the campaign. They are: Trent Bennett (five-year veteran, Assistant Fire Marshal), Brandon Frazier (10-year veteran, driver/engineer at Fire Station 6), DeWayne Morris (five-year veteran, firefighter at Fire Station 5) and Jeff Valdez (three-year veteran, firefighter at Fire Station 17).

It should be pointed out – just to keep clichés alive – that Morris arrived for the photo shoot by sliding down the fire pole from the second floor of Fire Station No. 1.


Meet Gin Gin, Kia, Kate and Mosie:

Click here to read Gin Gin, Kia, Kate and Mosie’s bios


Firemen and their pets

Morris’ first pet was actually a hamster named Sandy – his stepbrother had one named Candy – but grew up in a household where his stepmom owned a Pomeranian Chihuahua named Stitch, who was “20 pounds of pure energy.” DeWayne got the naming rights to the pet: He was a fanatic for the “Lilo and Stitch” films.

“He was cool,” Morris said. “Pets interrupt awkward silences in houses. They make fun activities even more fun.”

He currently doesn’t have a dog but has plans to adopt a couple of pit bull-mix dogs when he buys a house.

Bennett owned a mixed-breed named Oreo who was “one of the most active and gentle dogs you could find. He ran away once, then came back, and that was the joy of my life.”

Valdez grew up with a Chihuahua named Judy, then had a wiener dog mix. Then he went totally opposite end of the spectrum, with Newfoundland lab mix named Titus. As a youngster, he’d teach his dogs to play hide-and-seek “until they got used to my hiding spots.”

Frazier figures he’s had a half-dozen dogs, starting with a shepherd mix named Smokey when he was eight years old. The current king of his household is a boxer mix named Bo. He’s “super laid back” and is thrilled to take rides to pick up Frazier’s daughters, 14-year-old Brooke and nine-year-old Allie, after school. Said Frazier, “He’s great with the kids.”


WATCH:

About the ‘Rescue Me’ campaign

Behind the Scenes: How the 'Rescue Me' campaign came about

UPDATE: All four animals featured in the 'Rescue Me' campaign have been adopted thanks to you!Remember, there are dozens and dozens of animals at Huntsville Animal Services just like Gin Gin, Mosie, Kate and Kia that all need good homes.—More on the Rescue Me campaign to promote animal adoptions at our area shelters.Learn more about Gin Gin and Kia, two of the many adoptable dogs at the #HuntsvilleAL shelter on the Huntsville Animal Services page.Don't forget to follow our friends in Decatur and check out the pets up for adoption at the Decatur shelter – City of Decatur, Alabama – Government

Posted by City of Huntsville, Alabama – Government on Monday, October 2, 2017


The joy of adopting dogs

That should alleviate some concerns of potential adopters: Bo was a rescue dog from Huntsville Animal Services, just as was Smokey.

Actually, Frazier was going to help find another family for Bo, and the dog didn’t help his cause when he kept digging holes in the yard and had to be kept inside more frequently.

“But we fell in love with him,” Frazier said. “We had to call the other people and say, ‘Never mind.’”

There would be other dogs for those other people – just as there are for residents in Huntsville and the surrounding areas.

“There’s just so many dogs that need a home, and really they seem to understand and appreciate they’ve been rescued,” Frazier said.

“I’ve never adopted but I would tell people to understand that dogs are loving,” Bennett said.  “Some have struggled. But if you take a chance and get to know them, they can bring a lot of joy to your life. They’re just like a part of the family.”

“The way I look at it, these dogs didn’t ask to end up (at a shelter). Adoption gets them out of the situations they’re in,” Morris said. “Adopting dogs is awesome.”


About Huntsville Animal Services

Huntsville Animal Services is located at 4950 Triana Boulevard. Interested in adopting Kia or Gin Gin? Visit the shelter or call  (256) 883-3782 for more information. Follow Huntsville Animal Services on Facebook and Instagram.

Want to help but can’t adopt? Fill out this form to volunteer for Huntsville Animal Services.

Find Huntsville Animal Services online at HuntsvilleAL.gov/animal.


Photos by Jeff White Photography