Homeless Man Rescues Every Animal from Burning Atlanta Shelter

“I was really scared to go in there with all that smoke. But God put me there to save those animals."

Keith Walker
Photo: W-Underdogs

Keith Walker was picking up his dog from W-Underdogs on December 18 when he noticed that a fire had broken out in the Atlanta animal shelter's kitchen.

Despite the billowing smoke and his considerable fear, the 53-year-old homeless man sprang into action, rescuing every animal—six dogs and 10 cats—trapped inside.

"I was nervous as hell, I'm not going to lie. I was really scared to go in there with all that smoke. But God put me there to save those animals," Walker told CNN. "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."

W-Underdogs' founder Gracie Hamlin told CNN that she allows Walker's pit bull Bravo to stay inside the shelter every night.

"He is my guardian angel," Hamlin said of Walker, who has been homeless since he was 13. "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."

The Fire Department determined the blaze to be an electrical fire, and though they were able to put it out before it destroyed the entire structure, it is now uninhabitable.

As luck would have it, the shelter was already in the process of moving its headquarters to a new location and was able to move the animals into its new facility where they are now "happy, warm, safe, and comfortable."

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As for Walker, he's since become a bit of a celebrity. At time of publication, a GoFundMe campaign set up to thank him for his heroic deeds has already raised more than $43,000.

Though people are anxious to help him, W-Underdogs explained in Facebook post that his situation is a complicated one, but they are doing what they can to advocate for him and ensure that his needs, wishes, safety, and well-being are taken into account.

"We have received a flood of requests on how people can help Mr. Keith Walker, the hero who saved our animals from the fire. Rest assured we have Mr. Walker's best interests at heart and are exploring how to best manage donations that have come in on his behalf," the shelter wrote. "Please understand that the issues surrounding Mr. Walker's homelessness are complex, and we need to proceed with care."

Thank you, Mr. Walker!

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