Keith Walker saved a total of 10 cats and six dogs from a raging fire at W-Underdogs, an animal shelter in Atlanta, Georgia.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on December 28, 2020. It has since been updated.
On December 18, 2020, the W-Underdogs shelter in Atlanta, Georgia, went up in flames. Keith Walker, a 53-year-old homeless man, rushed into the fire to save the poor animals trapped inside. Though he was incredibly nervous, he rose to the occasion and managed to save every single cat and dog inside the shelter. Gracie Hamlin, the founder of W-Underdogs, called Walker her "guardian angel." She could not be more grateful for his act of heroism. Though the animal shelter was not completely destroyed by the fire, it has been left inhospitable. Thankfully, the shelter was just a week away from moving to a new location, CNN reports.
"I was nervous as hell, I'm not going to lie," Walker, who has his own pet pitbull, shared in an interview with the news outlet. "I was really scared to go in there with all that smoke. But God put me there to save those animals. If you love a dog, you can love anyone in the world. My dog is my best friend, and I wouldn't be here without him, so I knew I had to save all those other dogs." He had rushed into the animal shelter after the fire engulfed its kitchen.
"My dog is my best friend, and I wouldn't be here without him, so I knew I had to save all those other dogs," Keith Walker said. https://t.co/HXHVL8WG0a— CNN (@CNN) December 27, 2020
The animals were later moved to W-Underdogs' new location in Atlanta. Founder Hamlin affirmed, "He is my guardian angel. Even the firefighters didn't want to handle the dogs. They called animal control, but Keith was already in the building pulling out the cats and dogs until they were all safe." She knew Walker prior to this incident as she lets him keep his pet dog, named Bravo, in the shelter overnight. Walker, who has been homeless since he was 13 years old, was on his way to pick up his pitbull and take him on a walk when he spotted the fire. He was able to save six dogs and 10 cats, all of the animals in the shelter. "I can't thank him enough for saving my animals," Hamlin reiterated. "I'm still in disbelief because I've been around a fire and I know how fast they flare up. He is my hero."
W-Underdogs is a registered nonprofit organization. Its mission is to address the challenges that at-risk youth face by providing them with the skills and sense of accomplishment to overcome these obstacles in their own lives. One of the ways they do this is by showing children how to manage, care for and train dogs and cats. To date, the shelter has rescued more than 600 homeless dogs over the street and rehomed 100 cats. They have trapped, neutered and released (TNR) 200 more cats. "With every dog and cat we save, we make new friends," their website reads. "We will always keep the animals in our hearts."
The animal shelter is always looking for volunteers. While you may not commit the act of bravery Walker did, you can volunteer your time and effort to help out W-Underdogs. You can commit to dog walking, cat socializing, animal care, fostering and fundraising, among other things. If you would like to make a donation to the shelter, you can do so through its website.