It was in a rundown industrial area in Houston, Texas, a known dumping place for unwanted animals. As a three-alarm fire consumed the warehouse, bystanders tried to tell firefighters there may be animals trapped inside. But rescue workers were focused on taming the blaze. That’s how a boxer named Rocky was able to slip out and run away with severe burns on his body.
The day after the fire, a group gathered at the burned-out warehouse to search for animals.
They didn’t find any survivors. What they did find was a homeless man who was asking for help -- not for himself, but for Rocky. He had found the dog under a car, wrapped him in a blanket and shared his food with the animal.
“A person down on his own luck, who just lost his apartment, gives up a blanket and shares what food he has with Rocky -- that engages anyone with a soul,” says Jae Malik, one of the volunteers helping out on that Saturday night. “Then you see Rocky, that clinches it… If a homeless guy can give him a blanket, who are we to walk away?”
The rescuers took Rocky to a vet and thought for sure this would be a case of “mercy” death -- euthanasia. About 25% of the dog's body was burned, including his ears. But Rocky had other plans -- to survive the blaze.
He now has a tough road ahead of him: He’s had one of three surgeries during which doctors must remove dead tissue in order to allow new tissue to thrive. He has to be anesthetized for the procedures and then go through hydrotherapy afterward, twice a day in an ice bath.
“We’re not a formal nonprofit with board members. We're everyday people trying to make it better,” says Malik. She is part of an independent rescue group that volunteers in shelters and spreads awareness about animals in need on social networking sites.
The bill they’re now facing for Rocky’s procedures, medicines, therapy, etc., could cost them thousands -- up to $10,000.
“This dog has not growled, has not snapped, has shown zero aggression with all of us, while undergoing such a tribulation,” says Malik. “That will to live that he shows, while he remains loving, you have to help.”
They’re spreading Rocky’s story to help raise money for his care and also to send this message:
“If you sit and wait, nothing will continue to happen. Rocky is proof that it only takes one person caring to be a catalyst for positive change.”
If you want to follow Rocky’s progress -- or make a donation -- you can find more information on the Rocky the Boxer Facebook page.
Watch Evening Express weeknights 5-7 p.m. ET on HLN.