Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Coincidences help save dog injured in Dunedin house explosion

DUNEDIN — If fate exists, Dr. Elizabeth Baird experienced it over the past two days.

After an explosion and fire rocked a Dunedin house down the street from her home Wednesday, the veterinarian used a canine oxygen mask to help save a dog pulled from the rubble.

The dog, a 40-pound American Eskimo named Jingles, was taken to Florida Veterinary Specialists in Tampa, where he remained in critical but stable condition Thursday.

By sheer coincidence, Baird was at a previously scheduled news conference Thursday talking about another dog, a 75-pound American bulldog named Wrigley, whose brush with death four years ago led to an effort to equip emergency vehicles with animal oxygen masks.

Wrigley nearly died of carbon monoxide poisoning because the Clearwater rescue unit that tried to help her was not equipped with the snout-sized masks.

Though more than 120 masks were distributed to local rescue operations after Wrigley's ordeal, the Suncoast Animal League is trying to raise money to buy 50 more. At the news conference Thursday, the league announced it was donating 12 masks to Clearwater Fire Rescue.

Luckily, a Dunedin fire unit had a mask aboard after the blast Wednesday.

"I don't think there's any question (the dog) is alive today because of Dr. Baird's expertise and that the Dunedin Fire Department had the canine oxygen mask on board," said Rick Chaboudy, executive director and co-founder of the Suncoast Animal League.

The amazing chain of events began Wednesday when Baird took a personal day from her Country Oaks Animal Hospital practice to care for her 100-pound Doberman, Timber, who was recovering from orthopedic surgery. But their relaxing morning ended at 10:24 a.m. when the house shuddered violently.

When emergency vehicles started passing their house, she looked outside and saw billowing black smoke coming from Michigan Boulevard not far away.

Baird quickly changed from her pajamas to jeans and stood barefoot with other onlookers in a nearby church yard.

Then she saw a firefighter carrying a limp, white dog out of the smoky ruins. She told a police officer she was a veterinarian.

"He came back and got me and they picked a spot in the shade and laid him down," Baird said. "I did a quick triage. There was a paramedic student who lent me his stethoscope and I heard a heartbeat."

She said the dog was having trouble breathing. She could also see that he had head trauma.

His pupils were small, indicating a concussion. Blood trickled from his nostrils and he had burns on his right side.

Jingles was in shock.

Baird, a former emergency veterinarian, put a human oxygen mask up against his snout and started intravenous fluids. Because the mask didn't fit, she asked a Dunedin rescuer for a canine mask.

But Jingles still was on the verge of death.

"He was in and out of consciousness and thrashing and he had a grand mal seizure," Baird said.

She worked on Jingles for about a half-hour, then loaded him into her husband's vehicle. She took him to the Animal Hospital of Dunedin.

Later, Chaboudy took the dog to Florida Veterinary Specialists.

"Given Jingles' injuries, the smoke inhalation, the swelling of the brain, it was imperative he got the maximum rate of oxygen as quickly as possible," he said.

In another twist, the fire official who used a human oxygen mask to save Wrigley, Clearwater Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Doug Swartz, also had responded to the explosion Wednesday.

"When the firefighter came out carrying Jingles, Doug said, 'It was deja vu.' He felt a great sense of relief a vet was available," Baird said.

"You wonder how it all came about," she said. "Because of Wrigley's experience, we had an oxygen mask available for Jingles. Because we did surgery on Wrigley, he was here today.

"Had my dog not had surgery this week, I would not have been home. It does make you wonder. Things fell into place."

Reach Eileen Schulte at or (727) 445-4153.

Coincidences help save dog injured in Dunedin house explosion 02/12/09 [Last modified: Monday, February 16, 2009 11:07am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. College World Series puts Florida Gators in elite company


    With Tuesday night's College World Series win, the Florida Gators put themselves in rare company.

  2. Pinellas sees spike in infant deaths from unsafe sleeping, and advocates are concerned


    The reports from the Department of Children and Families are tragic: A Pinellas County mother falls asleep on a recliner during an early morning feeding and wakes to find one of her 3-month-old twins unresponsive. Another finds her 6-month-old daughter lying still, a blanket over her head. Another infant is found wedged …

    Advocates are looking to step up their public information efforts this year after reports show a spike in sleep-related infant deaths in Pinellas County. []
  3. Kellyanne Conway warns of health care spin, but then delivers her own in Miami


    On the same day that Senate Republicans were forced to delay a vote on their healthcare legislation because not enough of them wanted to vote for it, White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway defended the bill in Miami.

    White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway is welcomed by state Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-District 105, at the Miami-Dade GOP’s Lincoln Day fundraiser on Tuesday night.
  4. Sign up for our new daily News at Noon email newsletter


    The Tampa Bay Times will soon launch a daily newsletter called News at Noon. You can make sure to be among the first to receive it by signing up now.

  5. New poll shows tight St. Pete mayor's race


    A new poll shows a tight race between former mayor Rick Baker and Mayor Rick Kriseman, currently engaged in the most expensive mayoral race in St. Petersburg history. 

    Former Mayor Rick Baker answers a question during the mayoral candidate forum at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church on Tuesday. Mayor Rick Kriseman is in the foreground.