By Amy De La Fuente, American Red Cross volunteer
Just shy of 3:03 a.m. on this chilly Wednesday morning, Ricardo Torres awoke to the sound of his dog barking loud into his ear. Little did Ricardo know that his 3-year-old chihuahua mix was trying to rescue his 21-year-old pal from the major fire located feet away from their front door.
Toby, whose previous owners had surrender him, found a home with Ricardo and his family in the city of Tustin’s Chatham Village Apartments. Ricardo recalls how quickly Toby bonded and was protective of his new family. When recalling the events of this fateful morning, Ricardo says it was not normal for Toby to bark at night, but thanks to Toby’s excessive barking, Ricardo was able to wake up in time to evacuate his brother and mother from the fast-paced fire.
Thanks to the collaborative efforts between the American Red Cross and local responders, Ricardo and his family were transported to a shelter in the Tustin Area Senior Center, where the family, including Toby, was offered food and accommodations.
“Toby saved my life," says Ricardo. "I can repurchase things, but not my life.” As Ricardo remains at the shelter waiting for updates on the condition of his home, he and his family take turns petting their good boy, Toby.