This homeless man is being hailed a hero and a guardian angel after rescuing several shelter dogs and cats trapped in an animal facility that caught fire.
On the afternoon of December 18, an electrical fire burned down the W-Underdogs animal rescue in Atlanta, Georgia.
Keith Walker, who has been homeless since he was 13 years old, has done odd jobs for the organization for several years. That day, he was headed there to pick up his pit bull Bravo—who stays in the shelter during nights—to take him for a walk.
When he saw the flames, he asked another homeless man named Mike to call 911 for help. He then ran inside the building to retrieve the dogs and cats inside, getting them out one by one as fast as he can.
Walker ended up saving all 10 cats and six dogs in the shelter. Thankfully, none of them were hurt.
“I was nervous as hell, I’m not going to lie. I was really scared to go in there with all that smoke. But God put me there to save those animals,” Walker recalled of the terrifying moment.
“If you love a dog, you can love anyone in the world. 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.”
It’s a good thing that the two homeless men arrived at the scene because Gracie Hamlin, the organization’s founder, happened to be picking up supply donations at the time.
She received a call alerting her that the animal facility—which is also her home—had caught fire.
“He is my guardian angel,” Hamlin said of Walker. “Even the firefighters didn’t want to handle the dogs. They called animal control, but Keith was already in the building pulling out the cats and dogs until they were all safe.”
The fire department was able to stop the flames before it burned down the entire building, but despite their quick actions, the shelter was left uninhabitable.
Fortunately, W-Underdogs was set to transfer to another facility the following week, so all the animals had a place to go after the incident.
Volunteers who had heard about the fire came together and showed up with vans and cars to safely transfer all the pets to the new building. Someone even went as far as to donate a truck.
As word about Walker’s brave act has spread, donations have poured in to help the man. Currently, W-Underdogs is working to find the perfect homeless advocacy nonprofit that would help him best.
“Please understand that the issues surrounding Mr. Walker’s homelessness are complex, and we need to proceed with care. Toward this end, we will be seeking an organization experienced in working with homeless and vulnerable populations to be his advocate and ensure that his needs, wishes, safety and well-being are taken into account,” the organization wrote in a Facebook post.
A GoFundMe has been set up for the brave homeless man. So far, it has raised $66,917 – far exceeding the $5,000 target!
Hamlin said they will continue to provide food and medical care for Bravo and that the money donated to the shelter “goes back into supporting our community, including Keith and so many other deserving people and pets.”
“I can’t thank him enough for saving my animals,” Hamlin said. “I’m still in disbelief, because I’ve been around a fire and I know how fast they flare up. He is my hero.”
Someone on Facebook suggested that Walker should be allowed to sleep with his pet in the facility. However, Hamlin noted that the new shelter “is not as convenient as where Keith prefers to stay.”
She also said that they’ve made many similar offers to him over the years, but he prefers to “live his life of his own free will.”
Kudos to this guardian angel for setting aside his fears to save these animals’ lives! He is indeed a true hero.
If you would like to donate money or supplies to W-Underdogs, you may do so by visiting their mission page.