But sometimes the rescuer needs a little help too. On President's Day last week, a 10-year-old Dalmatian was found abused, injured and tied up to a pole with a small bowl of food in front of the firehouse on the 1300 block of Washington Street in Hoboken.
Firefighter Anton Peskens was the first to find the dog. Knowing that they were not going to be able to keep it in the firehouse and reluctant to take it to a shelter, he looked for other solutions.
Peskens arranged for the dog to be put up in his mother's house for a few days until a safe haven could be found. "We just want the dog to have a nice home," said Peskens' mother, Polly, while holding the dog's leash last week. "This is the second time that I can remember that a Dalmatian was left at the fire station. I guess some people just think the fire station can take them in when they can't."
It is now against the rules for firehouses to take animals in, but efforts to secure a home for the recently abandoned dog continued.
With the help of Fire Chief Frank Palmissano, whose mother-in-law, Regina Massaro, runs an animal rescue shelter called Roxy's Sanctuary just outside of New York City, the firemen were able to save the dog for now. The dog, which Massaro named George because he was found on President's Day, was taken to a veterinarian Wednesday and diagnosed with bronchitis and arthritis. A tumor was also found on the dog's tail, and if it is malignant it might be necessary to amputate the tail.
"I find it disgraceful that the owners abandoned this animal, and they should be ashamed of themselves," said Massaro. "Not only is it inhumane, it is against the law."
Unfortunately, the Dalmatian is no stranger to inhumane treatment. According to Chris Jackson, the author of the book "Will a Dalmatian fit your lifestyle?" the breed is among the most abandoned.
According to the book, some people see movies like "101 Dalmatians" and believe that the breed is perfect for them, when it is actually one of the more demanding breads to care for.
"For the owner who understands what the breed is really like, a Dal can be a great addition to the family," said Jackson. "For the owner who does not have a clear understanding of the breed, a Dal can be the worst kind of nightmare."
Jackson describes the Dalmatian as an exuberant, vibrant animal who is smart, thinks independently and is stubborn. He says these dogs need a great deal of physical and mental stimulation and challenge, without which they can easily become bored and very destructive. Many owners do not realize the amount of care that is required for such an energetic dog.
History has proven the Dalmatian's energy and resourcefulness. For centuries the dogs have shared barns with horses because they were effective in running off rodents and corralling the horses. And when a firefighting apparatus was horse-drawn, nearly every firehouse had its resident Dalmatian to help direct the horses and protect the firehouse.
Firehouses no longer use the horse, but the Dalmatian is deeply connected with it in lore.
While George remains at the shelter, the staff is seeking a permanent home for him. Anyone interested should contact Massaro at (718) 335-5899.