Firefighter Leads Effort to Care for Four Displaced Dogs

A Fairfax County man is fighting for his life after a devastating house fire that left him, his partner and their four dogs without a home.

However, many in northern Virginia, and around the world, are coming together through social media to lend a hand.

Among them is Sterling, Va., resident Beki Gieseke. She's fostering one of the Bernese mountain dogs, George.

"He's got a little bit of a cough still from the smoke, but he's adapting pretty well," Gieseke said.

On Monday, a fire ravaged a Woodlawn townhome. One of the two men who lived there is in ICU. He was rescued by fire Lt. Rick Trudeau.

"Actually, I brought the guy down on my head," Trudeau said. "He was kind of on my head, and I carried him down three flights."

Then rescuers turned their attention to the five dogs. They managed to get all but one out alive.

Trudeau owns two Bernese mountain dogs of his own. Realizing how much the homeowners lost, he and his wife were determined to help. On their own time they started an online fundraiser.

"I would've never believed it would go this far through social media," Trudeau said.

Gieseke's friend, Melinda Pitchford, read the plea for help.

"I personal messaged the firefighter, Rick, and just said, 'What can I do to help?'" Pitchford said.

Together the women are fostering some of the rescued dogs. But for Gieseke, the mission is all too personal. Three years ago a fire torched her and her husband's Loudoun County home.

"[It] totaled the house. [We] lost everything and the dogs," Gieseke added. And that's why she couldn't resist taking in George. "We had so much support after our fire from all of our friends and neighbors, it was like we wanted to give something back."

"I think there's just a lot of good people out there," Trudeau said. "More so than bad."

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