One late night in December 2009, Margo Feaser loaded an emaciated German Shepherd into the back of her patrol car.
The Seminole County Sheriff’s office received a call about a dog scaring away customers from a gas station, and the deputy found him there.
The one-year-old pup wasn’t injured or aggressive, so Margo decided to take him home. She hoped to find him a new owner, but the heartworm-positive canine ended up staying with her family.
Margo would learn that adopting Maxx was one of the best decisions she has made in her life. That’s because a few years down the road, the dog would end up saving their family from a house fire.
On April 25, 2016, shortly after 11 p.m., Margo’s Longwood, Florida, home caught fire while she, her husband, and their 2- and 4-year-old children slept.
Their neighbor, Chip Dover, and his son heard a “boom” while they were outside stargazing. They looked around and saw flames coming from the back of the Feasers’ home. John Newton, another neighbor, heard the commotion and dialed 911 before running barefoot across the street to help.
The group yelled into the home to see if anyone was inside and grabbed patio furniture to smash the windows. Margo eventually responded, and they had her follow their voices to a broken window.
They were able to pull Margo out to safety, but the fire had gotten too intense for her to go back in and get her husband and kids.
The Seminole County Fire Rescue eventually arrived, and Maxx jumped into action.
One of the firefighters who went inside the home saw Maxx walking down a smoke-filled hallway into a bathroom. The firefighter followed, thinking he would have to save the dog, but he found Maxx lying next to Margo’s 2-year-old daughter. The baby was out of her bed and on the floor.
“No doubt he was there to protect the baby,” said Fire Lt. Rich Huebner, one of the responders that night.
When firefighters got the kids out, Margo’s 2-year-old daughter didn’t have a heartbeat, and her 4-year-old son wasn’t breathing.
The children sustained severe smoke inhalation and minor burns, so they both had to be hooked up to ventilators for a while.
Margo’s husband, who was standing just inside the front door when firefighters broke it down and rescued him, also sustained smoke inhalation and suffered the most serious burns, mostly on his upper body. He had to undergo several surgeries but remained positive throughout his recovery.
Margo was the first to be discharged and quickly went back to work with the Sheriff’s Office.
The children also recovered well and went back to running around like nothing ever happened when they were discharged.
Their “superdog” Maxx also underwent minor surgery for smoke inhalation and burns. Margo said the dog seem depressed for a while until her husband was released from the hospital. Thankfully, Maxx also made a full recovery!
In a Facebook post, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office shared a personal note from Margo.
“We knew when we rescued him he was a fighter, and he has always been very protective of us,” Margo wrote in a Facebook post. “We are amazed by what he did that night and we are looking forward to having him back with us.”
According to state fire investigators, the fire started on a back porch and quickly spread through the roof. They never found the exact cause of the fire, but a surveillance video shows it started near an electrical outlet close to where Margo’s husband discarded cigarette butts.
Unfortunately, their house couldn’t be saved. But despite the overwhelming loss, Margo remains grateful.
“My family lived,” she said. “In the grand scheme of things, that’s what matters.”
Way to go, Maxx! You’re a real hero. Don’t forget to share this story with your friends and family.