'Hero' pit bull dies in fire after alerting family

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LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT/Gray News) - Last week, a Lawrence County couple lost everything in a house fire, including a dog they said saved their lives.

Amanda and Joe Alley called Tank a four-legged hero.

"If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't be here," Amanda Alley said.

Tank's barks woke up the couple around 3 a.m.

"The house was already blazing. It was already going out of the ceiling," she recalled.

The duo jumped out of their bedroom window just in the nick of time.

Before Joe Alley could escape, he received burns on his ears and his arm.

"Nothing made it out except what we had on our backs," Amanda Alley said.

"After we jumped out the window, I kicked the door in to holler for him about five or six times," Joe Alley added.

Sadly, that included their beloved 3-year-old pit bull.

"He's just like my kid," Amanda Alley said. She told stories of the dog enjoying anything from playing in the creek to riding in a car.

Amanda Alley said this loss is just as bad as losing her home.

"He's helped me through a lot of depression and anxiety along the way because (Joe Alley) even has a fake heart, an LVAD because he's waiting on a heart transplant," she explained.

An LVAD is a left ventricular assist device that works as a pump for patients who have reached the end-stage of heart failure.

The batteries to his LVAD were also destroyed in the fire. With only a little more than two hours left on his current battery, he was taken to a hospital.

"We lost two vehicles in the fire and pretty much everything we owned, all of his medical supplies," Amanda Alley said.

Amanda's sister Ruby Fletcher said she expected the worst. She lives nearby and broke down crying when she saw the house.

"I thought we lost her," Fletcher said.

The family believed a fireplace heater started the fire

"I've lived here for 11 years and just bought the heater. The first time I used the heater, my house burns," Amanda Alley.

She had a piece of advice for others who use electric heaters: "Do not use plug-in heaters because that's what I did. I bought a heater at a store on Black Friday and that's what they're thinking it was."

The family is thankful for their furry friend.

"Tank is our hero. If it wasn't for him, she wouldn't be here or Joe," Fletcher said.

The family said they did not have a working smoke detector and urged everyone to make sure their alarms are functioning.

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