Puppies warn family of fire

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 14, 2005

DEMOPOLIS-When Robin Varnett recently bought a new pair of puppies for himself and his family, he knew they would be lovable and fun and worth the occasional hassle. How worth it? The puppies just may have saved his family’s lives last Friday.

Robin is the son of Debbie Varnett, who spoke to the Times Tuesday afternoon about the incident, in which the puppies alerted Robin to a dangerous electrical fire.

“Our son’s mobile home is next to our house, out on Rangeline Rd,” she said. “They had only had the puppies for a few days. There’s two of them, Labrador retriever puppies 7 weeks old, one black and one white, named Bama and Bear.”

Because of their young age, Robin had decided Bama and Bear were not yet ready to begin sleeping outside the Varnett home as of Friday morning. It’s a decision he has come to feel very thankful he made.

“They didn’t want to keep them outside because it’s cold, and they might wander off,” she said. “The boys take them out to use the bathroom before going to school, but Friday, I guess it wasn’t even 6, the puppies just started crying and crying.”

Robin was awakened by the noise, but initially thought Bama and Bear just wanted to be taken out early. He rolled over and tried to get back to sleep.

“But those dogs just kept crying,” Debbie said, “and after a while he got up.”

Robin decided to go ahead and take the puppies outside for their morning potty break, and when he was shocked to find the source of the dogs’ distress: a small fire coming from directly underneath he and his wife’s bedroom window.

Robin quickly hustled his wife and sons next door to his parents’ residence while the fire department was called.

“All of them arrived just like that on my doorstep,” Debbie said.

After the fire department had arrived to snuff out the blaze and a quick investigation had been made, it was determined the culprit was a series of shorts in the wiring underneath the mobile home. Unbeknownst to the family, the shorts had grown worse over the preceding weeks and led to the small electrical fire that Robin spotted–and the puppies had presumably already smelled.

“If they hadn’t woken up and gotten the power shut off, the trailer would’ve burned up,” Debbie said. “They had smoke alarms, but that might have been too late. The puppies woke them up. I just feel like the dogs smelled it.”

Since the incident, the wiring issues have not yet been sorted out and power has not yet been restored to the mobile home, so Debbie has a few surprise houseguests for a few days-including Bama and Bear.

“They’re all staying with us for a while,” she said.

After their efforts in keeping their new family safe and secure, it’s little wonder Robin is happier with the puppies than ever.

“He’s so glad he got them,” Debbie said. “It’s a good thing, too, they got them when they did.”