LAND O' LAKES, Fla. - A Land O' Lakes couple returned home to find their home destroyed by fire, but even more painful was the loss of one of their beloved dogs.
"Our pets are part of our family. They're our children, really," said Dave Schellinger, who had to console his wife Patty who broke own after learning about the fire at the house on Lake Patience Road.
Beakman the pit bull died after the fire broke out Saturday night. The dog's father, Tater Bug, was rushed to Animal Emergency of Pasco County by Fire-Rescue officials after it was discovered he survived the blaze.
"The dog that survived was very special to me," said Schellinger. "He was born the day before Katrina. I was working out there in New Orleans at the time," he said.
Tater Bug was placed in a special crate that pumps oxygen into the air, helping to heal the dog's lungs.
"It's just the same as if you or I had smoke inhalation," said Dr. Vicki Salton, a veterinarian at Animal Emergency. "He's got the fluid. He's got difficulty breathing. He's got burns to his eyes."
Animals often panic if fire situations, leading them to breathe even heavier and inhale more smoke. Tater Bug's laid back personality may have helped him stay alive.
The dog is expected to recover and be returned to his owners this week.
Still, the loss of Beakman left Patty Schellinger in tears, while her husband consoled her.
"Wonderful, wonderful dog. I lost him," she cried.
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Last week, the I-Team was there when 99-year-old Willi Berchau was released from Florida's guardianship program after a three year court battle.