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Hero dog honored for alerting sleeping family about Rockport house fire

Dr. Richard Kretschmann said he owes his life to the stray dog he took in. While his family has to start over from scratch, they are alive thanks to 'PJ' the dog.

ROCKPORT, Texas — A stray dog is being hailed as a hero by a doctor that saved the canine from the streets, giving her a loving home. 

Dr. Richard Kretschmann formed a bond with PJ after meeting her at TLC Complete Care off of Staples Street last month. 

"Seemed skinny cold, one of the colder nights, kind of concerned seemed like a stray, hungry, tired, got her some blankets," Kretschmann said. 

After taking in the dog, Kretschmann didn't understand just how much that debt would be paid forward on one of the coldest nights of the year. 

"Dog came in and was pawing at the end of the bed," Kretschmann said. Melissa woke up and said what's up pooch? Pretty adamant scratching kind of unusual and she got up and smelled a little smoke.  She looked down the hallway and said hon, the house was on fire."

Kretschmann added that while he was grateful that PJ woke him and his family up, there was still a feeling of helplessness at the thought of losing his home. 

"There was nothing we could do," Kretschmann said. "Melissa was phoning 911, you just watch it burn."

 According to Kretschmann, he believes the fire was the result of a small space heater being used to keep the family warm. He added that while assessing the situation he was able to get his family out of the home in time. 

"Quicker than I thought.  By the time we got the kids out, they were all sleeping, just a shirt, bare feet, got them out," Kretschmann said. "Got them toward the truck, away from the structure, going back in and get a few things, the smoke was starting to pour out from where the main door was."

While Kretschmann and his family have to start from scratch, he understands the vital role PJ played in keeping his family safe. 

"Words will never express what you will say.  The kids are doing well with what happened.  I think I'm taking it a lot harder than they are," Kretschmann said. The kids love the dog, and we are eternally grateful we got our family, the dog is definitely part of the family."

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