NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio – Bella is not even two years old yet, but the service dog is already being called a hero.
“She definitely saved my life, no doubt about that at all,” said Tony Damato.
Damato, a Vietnam veteran, said he has had numerous health issues over the years and they recently got Bella to help him. He said he never thought his best friend would save his life.
But on Thursday, she did just that.
“My wife and daughter were not home, and I was not feeling so good so decided to take a nap,” Damato explained to Fox 8. “A little more than an hour later, Bella jumped up on me and was making sure I got up.”
He said when he woke up he saw thick smoke.
“I never saw anything like it,” Damato said.
He got himself to the front door but when he turned around Bella was not there.
Firefighters arrived a few minutes later and Damato told them Bella was still inside the home.
“The firefighters were just absolutely amazing,” said Wendy Damato, Tony’s wife. “They went inside and got Bella.”
North Ridgeville Fire Chief John Reese says Bella was not doing well when they first pulled her from the home.
“We gave her oxygen,” Reese said.
Damato was taken to the hospital and Bella to the veterinarian.
“It was gut wrenching for us because she saved my Dad and then we were worried she may not make it,” said Jennifer Isaacs.
Damato was released from the hospital Sunday, the same day Bella was allowed to leave the animal hospital.
The family is now staying with relatives, while they look for a new home.
And both have a long recovery.
“We are not out of the woods yet, but we are praying” Damato said.
“I wish I could buy her steak for breakfast every day,” Damato said. “She is my hero.”