A truck driver in Minnesota saved the life of a puppy trapped inside a burning dumpster after hearing its cries.
Driver Clayton Van Wert was visiting a garbage dump near the Red Lake Indian Reservation on Friday when he suddenly heard faint whimpers, leading him to a dumpster inside the fenced-off facility that was engulfed in flames. Van Wert said the puppy “emerged from the bottom” of the burning dumpster after he pounded on the side of it. He looked inside to discover the dog trapped inside – his fur completely charred. He described the dog as looking like “a burnt marshmallow."
“I touched his fur, and it just disintegrated,” he said. Van Wert then began his attempt to free the puppy from the dumpster.
“I reached in, burned my hands and singed my hair, and grabbed him by the front legs,” Van Wert said of his brave rescue. “When I got back on the ground, he immediately started to walk.”
The 55-year-old driver said the puppy had virtually no fear and was completely trusting of him almost immediately.
“He came over to me, and he was just like there was absolutely no fear,” he said.
Van Wert alerted local authorities, and the dog was placed in the custody of a local animal shelter.
“Most of his hair was charred … and his feet were very swollen on the left side, and he has significant burns on his knees,” Dr. Vicki Schulz said.
Schulz added that the dog, later nicknamed Phoenix by staff at the shelter, was half the size he should be and looked to be severely malnourished.
“He either belonged to someone or is one of these pups that runs around from place to place and looks for food," Schulz said.
Phoenix will undergo a series of procedures over the next several months, including skin grafts. Authorities are investigating the incident and attempting to track down whomever was responsible for putting Phoenix in the dumpster.
“I don’t believe that he got into the dumpster on his own,” Van Wert said. “He had to be put in there … by a very, very sick person.”
Photo Credit: South Highland Pet Hospital, Act V Rescue and Rehabilitation via dailymail.co.uk