As Keith Walker approached the W-Underdogs animal shelter in Atlanta on Dec. 18, he noticed smoke pouring from the building.
Instead of calling and waiting for help, Walker ran inside and saved every one of the animals — six dogs and 10 cats — trapped inside. One of the dogs happened to be his own pet, a Pit Bull named Bravo.
“I was nervous as hell, I’m not going to lie,” Walker told CNN. “I was really scared to go in there with all that smoke.” But he thought about how much he loved Bravo and decided to take immediate action. “My dog is my best friend, and I wouldn’t be here without him, so I knew I had to save all those other dogs,” he said.
Walker, who is 53 and has been homeless since he was 13, is allowed to let Bravo spend nights at the shelter, thanks to W-Underdogs founder Gracie Hamlin. He was coming to the shelter to pick up Bravo when he saw the fire.
“He is my guardian angel,” Hamlin told CNN. She said that even the firefighters didn’t want to handle the dogs and were waiting for animal control to arrive, “but Keith was already in the building pulling out the cats and dogs until they were all safe.”
The fire left the shelter uninhabitable, but fortunately, Hamlin had already planned to move to a new location later this month. The rescued animals are now at the new location, safe and sound.
The mission of W-Underdogs, according to its website, is “to empower youth through service to animals and communities.” The nonprofit organization teaches kids how to manage, care for, and train dogs and cats. “They learn personal discipline and responsibility as they rehabilitate the animals,” the website states.
As you can imagine, Hamlin has been flooded with requests to help homeless hero Walker. According to the W-Underdogs Facebook page, the only verified online fundraiser is this GoFundMe campaign. As of Dec. 29, over $47,000 has been raised to help support Walker.
To make a donation to W-Underdogs so it can continue helping people with challenges in caring for their pets, visit its GoFundMe page or its website, and check out its Amazon Wish List for needed supplies.