Wednesday, August 20

Pit Bull Saves Family from Fire

Dog credited with saving family from burning home

By Norb Franz
Macomb Daily Staff Writer

A bite to Matthew Duda's ankle by his pit bull terrier probably saved his life and the lives of his family.

Duda, 21, was jarred out of his sleep by the pain in his foot and tumbled out of bed early Thursday morning. From the floor, he saw Roxie staring at him - and flames along a wall, part of the ceiling and floor.

The Clinton Township man began yelling "Fire!" to alert his mother, Lori Duda, and his sisters, Amy, 24, and Alicia, 19, who were sleeping. They escaped the burning colonial on Touraine, near Canal and Hayes roads. Matthew let the family's other two dogs into the yard before he ran out - followed the whole time by Roxie.

"If it wasn't for my puppy I probably wouldn't be standing here," he said Friday afternoon in front of their charred home and debris scattered in the front yard.

Matthew, who suffered second-degree burns to his hip, said he didn't fully realize the heroic action of his 10-month-old dog until he was outside and noticed two red dots where he felt pain.
Teeth marks.

"It didn't dawn on me," he said, adding that Roxie doesn't fit the stereotype viciousness of the breed. Matthew figures Roxie was returning a favor; he says he rescued the malnourished puppy earlier this year from an acquaintance of a friend in Detroit.

Amy Duda said she was awakened by her brother's yelling. She grabbed a cell phone, the family's pet Calico cat and fled.

"I think I'm alive because of my brother Matt," she said. "All the firemen said if it wasn't for the dog we wouldn't have woken up."

When she initially heard her son yelling upstairs, Lori Duda didn't realize her family's safety was in jeopardy.

"I thought Matt was dreaming and yelling in his sleep. I went upstairs and saw smoke," she said.

The cause of the fire was an electrical short circuit, linked to a portable fan. The 1,600-square-foot house was destroyed by a combination of flames, smoke and water. The family is insured for their losses, but what remains of most of their belongings now fits into eight plastic storage bins.

The fan was in Lori's bedroom. She had suggested that Matthew sleep there instead of her late Wednesday because he arrived home late and she was still cleaning downstairs to prepare for a visit from out-of-town relatives.

Ironically, Lori initially opposed her son bringing Roxie into the house when he first got the pit bull because of the breed.

The playful pet is very friendly and quiet, although Roxie has ruined several shoes since they got her.

For grateful family members, that's now easily forgiven.

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