Onyx, the 10-month-old pit bull who was badly burned when he saved his family from a Tallahassee house fire in late September, returned home Tuesday evening. / Tallahassee Fire Department
(Tallahassee.com) - Onyx, the 10-month-old pit bull who was badly burned when he saved his family from a Tallahassee house fire in late September, has returned home.
The pup was released Tuesday night from Northwood Animal Hospital, which raised enough money through donations to pay for all of the dog's health care costs including future appointments, according to Dr. Kevin Brumfield of Northwood Animal Hospital.
Onyx alerted his family to a fire on the back side of their house in the 1500 block of Lake Street in the early morning hours of Sept. 26. His yelps helped awaken his owners and their two children, who were asleep inside.
Onyx was later found engulfed in flames.
The fire is being investigated by the Florida Fire Marshal's Office as an arson. As of Wednesday, that investigation was still open and ongoing, according to Ashley Carr, spokeswoman for the Florida Fire Marshal's Office.
The story for Onyx was not supposed to work out the way it did. His owners, knowing they wouldn't be able to afford his care, feared they might have had to hand him over to a shelter in order to save his life.
But Brumfield and the doctors at Northwood took him in and started a grassroots campaign to cover his bills.
Throughout his more than a month in care, Onyx received some of the best veterinary care available, including a stint at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Science in Gainesville.
Now 90 percent of his body is healed with the rest expected to recover over the next two to three weeks, according to Brumfield. Onyx originally suffered burns to 25 to 30 percent of his body.
Onyx has been recovering in Northwood since Oct. 8, when he returned from treatment in Gainesville.
The decision to send Onyx home came after careful consideration of his progress.
Doctors were most concerned for Onyx's eyes, which they feared he might have lost. His corneas were burned in the fire, causing cloudiness and inflammation that affected his vision.
"The vision seems to be slowly but gradually returning," Brumfield said. "He's able to visualize more as the wounds heal."
Once his eyes were determined to be on the mend, doctors gave the go-ahead to send Onyx home. Onyx is still taking medicine and anti-inflammatory medication for his wounds, which will leave permanent scars.
Brumfield thanked the donors to the PayPal account, which took in donations from all over the world, for helping Northwood Animal Hospital save Onyx.
"Everyone who donated was the reason we were able to do this," he said. "(Onyx) got what he deserved in this case."