- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

GREENFIELD, Ind. (AP) - The whimpering sound of puppies in a burning shed was all it took for letter carrier Melinda Thompson to spring into action.

Thompson was filling in on a route she occasionally covers on Nov. 17 when she drove up to a home in the 2600 block of Buck Creek Road. She saw a shed in flames on the property.

First response: call 911. Second response: make sure there were no animals inside.

“I know that this particular home, they have a few dogs, and I just came around the corner there where they live and I saw the shed on fire,” Thompson told the Daily Reporter (https://bit.ly/1yPzknC ). “I thought, ‘I just gotta check, just in case.’”

Sure enough, Thompson heard puppies whimpering from inside the burning shed. She reached for the door, but it was locked. Thompson ran to a nearby barn and grabbed a shovel to knock the door in.

“When I couldn’t get that lock off; I tried to kick the board in,” she said. “I tried everything; I just had to get them out. They were crying, and that was just the awfulest thing I ever heard.”

One pup was at the door, screaming loudly, Thompson said. When she finally got through, she found most of the puppies huddled in a corner, tucked away from the heat lamp that apparently had ignited straw inside the structure.

Thompson brought all nine healthy puppies to her vehicle to wait for the Buck Creek Volunteer Fire Department to arrive. Chief David Sutherlin said the dogs would not have survived had it not been for Thompson’s quick thinking.

“It was a very small building, but it was a very intense fire,” Sutherlin recalled. “(By) the time we got there, the roof had burned off of it. A very good portion of the roof and much of the sides were gone by the time we got there and started putting water on it.”

Firefighters emphasize personal safety when rescuing animals from fires, and Sutherlin said Thompson was quick and brave for her action. His crew didn’t even know animals were involved in the fire until they arrived at the scene. The building was a total loss.

“She got nine puppies out of there,” Sutherlin said. “I imagine once she got the door open they forgot the fire and thought, ‘Hey, it’s play time.’ They followed her over to her vehicle.”

Thompson, a Spiceland resident, kept one of the Mountain Cur puppies. The choice was easy: She had to take home the little one who was crying out.

“She was the one at the door just screaming; she was the tiny one - the little runt,” she said.

Thompson named the gray pup with a stubby tail Ember - a constant reminder of how their friendship began. Now, three weeks later, Ember is fitting in well with her family.

“She is the boss,” Thompson said. “We have a bulldog and he’s only 5 months old, but she’s already the boss. She’s very possessive of her toys but loves people; she is just the sweetest dog.”

Thompson is an animal lover and would one day like to open a rescue center for animals left homeless from domestic abuse. She said she never thought twice about saving the puppies that cold day. Even though delivering mail is her job, she can’t help but look out for four-legged friends in need.

“I seem to know more dogs than I do people,” she said.


Information from: (Greenfield) Daily Reporter, https://www.greenfieldreporter.com

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