BASTROP COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) - After a fire destroyed a family's home in Bastrop County more than a month ago, the story of how the family inside was saved is still making animal rescue workers beam with happiness.
The family's dog, Chrome, was rescued from Bastrop County Animal Shelter in November, but his owners say that it was Chrome who alerted them to a fire in their home on March 4 and got them out of bed in time to escape safely.
"He's definitely my hero right there, he's a good dog," said Laura Smith, Chrome's owner.
Smith was sleeping in the home with her two young sons that night. She thought Chrome woke her up at around 1 a.m. because he needed to go to the bathroom.
"He stayed with me until I realized the house was on fire and then took off down our hallway to get the boys and helped the boys out and to safety," Smith explained. "Without Chrome, I think there would be no us today."
The family lost their entire home and many of their possessions in the blaze and have decided they need to look for a new home elsewhere.
Laura Smith believed that the fire was started by bad electrical wiring in one of the walls of her home. Randy Reyna, Elgin Fire Department Chief, told KXAN Sunday that Smith's home had so much damage that they could not determine the cause of the fire, though he noted it was not a suspicious fire. Because Smith lives farther out from their station, Reyna explained it took his department 11 minutes to respond.
While Smith and her family stay in local housing provided by St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Elgin, the Bastrop County Animal Shelter also pitched in. They raised $1,000 to help get Laura Smith and her family back on their feet. They also supplied Chrome with lots of dog food, treats and a certificate for "heroic acts of bravery and love."
Anna Watson, a full-time volunteer, said after Smith sent the shelter a message explaining what happened, they started talking about how to lend a hand.
"I let [the shelter volunteers] know what had happened with Chrome and that he was a hero and we all were texting back feverishly and [saying], 'Oh my God we got to help them,'" recalled Anna Watson.
Watson was actually there when Smith adopted Chrome. Until then, Chrome hadn't been adopted because many people thought he was too high energy.
"He all had our hearts and we loved him and we took him to a tractor supply event in Elgin," Watson recalled. "[Smith] spotted him from across the way and was crying and said 'This is my dog' and we were crying."
Smith said she never set out to bring home a dog that day, but as soon as she saw Chrome for the first time, she knew she needed to take him home.
When people ask Smith what they can do to help out her family, she tells them to adopt and support their local animal shelter.
"Don't shop: adopt," Smith said. "There are tons of dogs that need a loving home that will return that love a million times over."
The Bastrop County Animal shelter is almost always at capacity and looking for homes for the animals they're housing. If you're interested in supporting, volunteering with or adopting from the Bastrop County Animal Shelter, head to their website or visit them in person.