SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — News 8 is happy to share an update on a heart-warming rescue we captured during the West Fire last week. News 8's cameras were rolling when firefighters carried a dog named Riley to safety and the video quickly went viral online and has been viewed thousands of times on social media.
Riley is a 3-year-old Red Heeler and he stayed behind when his family evacuated. His owner Albert Altamirano says he desperately tried to get Riley to come with them.
"I love my dogs and they’re part of our family," said Albert. "He thinks I’m playing with him and I’m trying to chase him, get [him] in the car and he’s just running from me all happy thinking I’m playing."
Riley then crawled underneath the porch and wouldn’t come out. Albert says the fire was so close that he, his wife, and infant son had no choice but to leave.
The fire destroyed everything. Albert said his family had just moved in in May; they were renting the home while he tries to get his construction business off the ground.
"Our house was gone in a matter of minutes," said Albert. "You just see your whole life go in a flash - up in smoke."
But the one bright spot for Albert and his family: Riley survived.
The firefighter in the video New 8 shot - believed to be with the U.S. Forest Service rescued Riley - and was able to get in touch with Albert.
"I told him I was thankful that they had him and that he was in good hands," said Albert. Albert had no idea his dog had gone viral online.
"That’s cool, you know," he said. "A lot of people love dogs just like we do."
They were reunited over the weekend "I was super stoked to see that Riley was up and running," Albert said.
Riley was also reunited with his brother Max and is now staying at a relative's house.
"[We're] just thankful he’s doing well," said Albert. Though he admits the road ahead will be difficult- he’s doing his best to remain positive.
To the community, Albert had this message:
"Thank you for all the support going around. [I] can’t stress how thankful me and my wife are."
A GoFundMe page has been established to help Albert, Riley and the rest of their family get back on their feet.