By Tracey Roxburgh, Otago Daily Times
Meet Demon. The 2-year-old English mastiff-American red nose pit bull cross was, until Saturday a happy-go-lucky, lovable and loved family pet.
However, when his 10-month-old brother Sultin, chewed through a phone cable in the garage of his Cromwell home, life changed for Demon and his owner.
Southern Fire Region fire safety officer Stuart Ide, of Cromwell, said it appeared the fire started when the puppy chewed through a cellphone cable while the phone was charging.
"The dog was prone to doing that ... the armchair caught on fire. We can't prove [that was the cause of the fire], but it's very likely."
Mr Ide said the garage was badly damaged. The puppy died while Demon, who weighs about 30kg, hid underneath covers on a bed and has been left with injuries which would have him classified as a critical care patient in human terms.
Owner Russell Davies was not at home when the fire started, but said he was grateful to those who rescued Demon, particularly the dog's "second owner" Draydon Sinclair.
Mr Sinclair told the Otago Daily Times when he realised the garage was on fire he opened the door and called for the dogs.
Demon "came running out", still "smoking".
"I grabbed a hose and just put it on him."
Pets and Vets veterinarian Orla Fitzpatrick, of Queenstown, treated Demon in Cromwell on Saturday afternoon and said the dog was in extreme pain.
Demon also suffered bad smoke inhalation, his eyelids were badly burned, he had burns to one leg and his ears would have to be removed.
Demon was heavily sedated, put on IV antibiotics as well as fluids and can now be hand fed.
He had also been going for small walks, she said.
"He's such a wonderful dog, he's just beautiful ... he's just like a big teddy bear."
Unfortunately, his treatment is expensive - the bill is already about $2000.
Mr Davies knew he could not afford to pay the bill. Pets and Vets would give a discount, but the bill could still be a few thousand dollars.
"The owners and friends are going to try and chip in as much as they can."
The clinic might organise a charity quiz to raise money for Demon, but also wanted to launch a public fundraising effort to assist with Demon's vet bill.
Update August 10, 2011 - The following article is by Tracey Roxburgh, Otago Daily News:
Offers of help for Demon
Staff at Pets and Vets, Queenstown, were kept busy yesterday with offers of help for Demon, the 2-year-old English mastiff-American red-nose pit bull-cross badly burned in a fire in Cromwell on Saturday.
Yesterday, the Otago Daily Times reported Demon, who hid under covers on a bed in the burning garage, suffered third-degree burns to his back, face and left leg.
The fire is thought to have started when Sultin, a 10-month-old American blue-nose pit bull-cross, chewed through a phone-charger cable. Sultin died in the fire.
Demon was taken to Pets and Vets Queenstown, where he is likely to remain for "months".
Yesterday, veterinary nurse Clare Temperton said Demon had been put under general anaesthetic to have burnt skin removed from his body to prevent infection.
Treatments like that would be required "every few days" and the cost of it was expensive - a bill which was out of reach for Demon's owner, Russell Davies.
After Demon's story ran in the ODT yesterday, Ms Temperton said many people had either called the clinic or popped in to offer financial support or products which would be raffled off to raise money for his treatment. Mr Davies was also fundraising in Cromwell, she said.
"People are really getting behind it. Today we must have raised about $200."
While "every bit counts", the cost of Demon's treatment was likely to be at least $10,000, particularly if he required skin grafts.
Pets and Vets was running a raffle comprising goods which had been offered to the clinic and was also considering other fund-raising ideas.
It was possible the clinic would organise a quiz night in the next few weeks, where the raffle would be drawn and people "could come along and check on Demon's progress".
Update August 26, 2011 - The following article is by Tracey Roxburgh, Otago Daily Times:
Burned dog Demon healing well
After a tough start, Demon, the badly burned canine, is progressing well; as is the fundraising to help with his care.
Demon is a 2-year-old English mastiff crossed with an American rednose pit bull.
Earlier this month the Otago Daily Times reported Demon hid under the covers of a bed in a Cromwell garage during a fire on August 6, but suffered third-degree burns to his back, face and left leg. The fire is thought to have started when his canine companion Sultin chewed through a live power cable.
Sultin died in the fire, while Demon was taken to Pets'n Vets Queenstown.
Demon had been placed under general anaesthetic every few days to have burnt skin removed from his body and, while the past three and a-half weeks had been "tough going", he was starting to heal, veterinarian Dr Orla Fitzpatrick said.
Although he had required a significant amount of "intensive care", his personality had begun to return and he was even well enough to take daily walks.
Pets'n Vets launched a fundraising appeal after Demon was hurt, to help his owner, Russell Davies, with vet bills. About $2200 had been raised through cash donations, and many raffle prizes had come in.