Local canine chosen as finalist for "Chicago Fire" Top Firehouse Dog
CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR DEMPSEY!
NBC's the "Today" show and "Chicago Fire" are honoring the "Top Firehouse Dog" nationwide, and out of hundreds of entries, chose Dempsey from the Pike Township Fire Department, as one of three canine finalists.
On Tuesday morning, Sept. 24, Dempsey made his television debut on the "Today" show with his adopted owner, Eileen Orban, and "Chicago Fire" stars Jesse Spencer and Taylor Kinney.
At just 8 weeks old, Dempsey was intentionally set on fire by a teenager, and abandoned. After he was rescued and survived the deadly Parvovirus, he was adopted and started working as the "Burn Prevention Pup" for Pike Township Fire Department's public education program.
With severe burn wounds covering his stomach, tail and most importantly his feet, he suffered daily challenges as he grew older and reached 100 pounds.
Dr. Nicolas Vecchio, IndyVet Emergency & Specialty Hospital chief surgeon, examined Dempsey's original condition and described it as "by far the worst case I've ever seen," citing that his toenails actually melted into the bone and injuries left him in constant pain.
IndyVet launched a fundraising campaign last summer and raised over $11,400 to fund reconstructive surgeries to improve Dempsey's quality of life. IndyVet matched every dollar raised, while remaining funds support Pike Fire's public education program.
"Dempsey lives on to share his devastating yet uplifting story with others," Dr. Vecchio said. "And with the help of the community, we've been able to get him back on his feet so he can continue doing what he does best."
The two-and-a-half-year-old boxer/mastiff mix spreads awareness on the dangers of fire, as well as animal cruelty, to area elementary schools and health fairs. He participates in Juvenile Firesetter interviews and uses his battle scars to reflect the damage fire can cause when played with or used irresponsibly.
Eileen and Dempsey also make routine visits to Hoosier Burn Camp and People's Burn Foundation Brave Hearts Camp to visit children living with burn injuries.
"These camps are very precious to me," Orban said. "Kids adore him, and you know they feel a sense of comfort when you hear them say, 'he's just like us.'"
The winner of the contest, determined by public vote, will be dubbed "Top Firehouse Dog," and fetch a cameo appearance on an upcoming episode of "Chicago Fire."
To vote for Dempsey as "Top Firehouse Dog," log on www.Today.com now through Monday, Sept. 30.
"Dempsey's road to recovery has been a long one. There have been plenty of times where I questioned if surgery was the right choice.
However, when you see him in a room full of children (and adults) who are burn victims themselves, and he just sits and loves on them, it makes it all worth it.
When you see a bunch of burly firefighters playing with him in the yard or office, bringing him treats, bones and peanut butter, it's worth it.
When you see the life lessons he's teaching your own children, it's worth it.
When you're convinced Dempsey was placed in your life to say 'hey, you need to slow down and take a look at everything around you,' it's worth it!"
LEARN MORE ABOUT DEMPSEY'S PROGRESS!