Lifestyle & Human Interest

'My Heart Just Dropped': Toddler Trapped in House Fire, But Loyal Family Dog Leads Rescuers To Her


Janet Kelly and her fiance DaQuan Davis were out shopping when they got a terrible call from Davis’ brother Demetrius, who was watching two of their children.

“The house is on fire. You need to get home,” Demetrius said, Kelly told “Today.”

“My heart just dropped,” she recalled.

The couple’s older daughters, 9-year-old Zoey and 7-year-old Chloe, were with them, but 4-year-old Isabella and 14-month-old Shantel were at the family’s duplex in Detroit, Michigan, with Demetrius. The family feared the worst, and Zoey and Chloe were in tears.

“They thought that Isabella and Shantel were no longer with us,” Kelly said.

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But thanks to the protective family dog, a pit bull mix named Blue, they were in good paws.

“Demetrius was able to get Isabella out, but Shantel was pinned in her playpen,” Kelly explained. “Things were falling. Blue followed Demetrius outside, then he ran back into the house for Shantel. He was protecting her no matter what.

“He was circling around her and barking. And he wouldn’t leave until she was out.”

Kelly was understandably greatly relieved to find out that her children were safe, but the home they were renting is uninhabitable. They didn’t have renter’s insurance, and all their possessions have been destroyed — including the equipment they owned to run their lawn care business.

The fire had started in the apartment below theirs, but they’re dealing with the consequences, too.

“I was a single mom when we moved into the house, and I could barely make ends meet,” Kelly said. “But it was irresponsible of me. I just never thought something like this could happen.

“We still have to find housing and buy clothing. We lost absolutely everything I worked so hard to have my own company, and now I’m looking at fast food jobs.”

“The reality is that when you are in a fire situation, there is little help out there to get people back on their feet as renters,” Poni Melange, a friend of the family, told KTVI.

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The first few nights after the fire, the family slept in their van, but after their story got out, a kind soul offered for them to stay at their AirBnB free of charge for the month of March.

Kelly also started a GoFundMe, which many generous people — and fans of the hero dog — have donated to.

“He’s the sweetest dog,” Kelly told Today. “Pit bulls have a reputation for being aggressive. But I think it comes down to the way they were raised. Dogs are not born wanting to bite people. Blue will bark at strangers, but once he knows you’re OK, he’ll drop onto his back for belly rubs.”

Blue has clearly been affected by the incident, and he now growls whenever he sees candles or someone lighting a cigarette.

So far, the fundraiser has accumulated over $103,000 dollars and will be incredibly helpful getting the family back on their feet.

“It brings tears to my eyes to know so many people care about us and still care!!!” Kelly wrote in an update on GoFundMe.

“I use to doubt God… but all of this has shown me that there is a God and He truly does have a plan for me and my family! Thank you everyone! God bless each and everyone one of you!”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking