Nearly two years ago, Joe Larimer rescued his pit bull-beagle mix, George, from a shelter. Last week, George returned the favor by waking up Larimer and alerting him to a fire inside his Doña Ana County home. The story: http://ow.ly/KOeTs

Posted by Las Cruces Sun-News on Wednesday, March 25, 2015

There are many perks to adopting a shelter pet, but Joe Larimer never thought saving his life was going to be one of them. 

Joe Larimer rescued a pitbull-beagle mix named George from ACTion Program For Animals two years ago, and the dog has been a wonderful addition to his family. Not only that, now the dog has saved his owner's life.

Last Thursday, Joe Larimer was sleeping in his mobile home when a television in the living room caught fire. Fire investigator is still trying to figure out what caused the television to catch fire, as it was turned off at the time it caught fire. The base of the tv melted, and it fell forward onto the living room floor. Larimer and George the dog were sleeping on the opposite side of the home, when the fire started. George immediately knew something and leapt into action to save him and his owner. Here's what Joe Larimer told The Las Cruces Sun-News about the fire:

"George always sleeps on the floor beside my bed. I woke up to George slamming himself against the bedroom door. Then he ran to me and started barking violently. I couldn't figure out what he was doing. He slammed himself against the door, and started barking again. When I got out of bed and opened the door, the smoke was so thick I couldn't see my hand in front of my face."

Larimer was able to make his way outside of his home safely, with George and his other dogs. He said he tried to call 911 but no one answered. So he decided to go back into the house to try and out the fire out himself, and George was right behind him.

"I ran back inside to try to put the fire out, and George never left my side. At one point, I fell down and busted my leg open — and he was there licking me, trying to make me get up. ...  If he hadn't done what he did, it would have been catastrophic. We would have all been dead, if he didn't insist that I get up to see what was going on."

The fire damage luckily was only in the immediate area of the television, but Larimer's home does have extensive smoke damage. Joe Larimer said he is thankful for George's actions, and said it wasn't the first time the dog has come to his rescue. Larimer said he has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a respiratory illness, that causes his oxygen levels to drop. Sometimes he passes out from the lack of oxygen, and George is there to help him in his time of need.

"He was always there. He'd lick me, and nudge me until I'd wake up."

Joe Larimer and his wife got George the dog from ACTion Program for Animals in Las Cruces. At first the couple was fostering him, but once another home couldn't be found for the dog, they decided to make him part of their family. It seems like the family made the right decision. The Larimers own several dogs, but George has a special place in Joe's heart, "We're just a couple of old men."

The ACTion Program for Animals in Las Cruces have several dogs and cats up for adoption. You can see featured pets in our Adoptable Animals blog, or on their website.