MADEIRA BEACH — Fire Chief Derryl O'Neal called upon his new hires to approach the City Commission and be sworn in Tuesday evening.
First he called two firefighter/paramedics forward. Jared Schenofsky had worked at Pinellas Park. Tom McClave used to work at Seminole.
Then he called on the Madeira Beach Fire Department's cutest acquisition:
Clover, a 4-month-old black and white cur hound mix.
Suncoast Animal League volunteer Karey Burek took in Clover in late February. The puppy had been trapped in a shed fire in Alabama caused by a propane heater.
She, her mom and six siblings crawled out, but Clover suffered severe burns to her paws, chest, head and ears.
Clover was just a few weeks old and 7 pounds at the time of the fire. Then she was brought to the Suncoast Animal League in Palm Harbor.
"It's been amazing to see her flourish," Burek said.
The league shared updates about her recovery. Soon Clover grew a loyal fan base rooting for her recovery.
The posts also caught the attention of a few Madeira Beach Fire Department officers, who had been thinking about adopting a dog for the fire station.
They invited Clover to visit, and after all parties involved — including Clover and Madeira Beach city officials — agreed to the idea, she was officially invited to join the station. Clover has been living there for the past week.
She also emerged as the top candidate for the job after a rigorous selection process.
"We interviewed several pets before we met Clover," O'Neal told commissioners. "After seeing her personality, we knew she was the right choice."
She will be the station's first mascot and assist in educational activities such as teaching kids about how to stop, drop and roll.
"Clover will have a lot of responsibilities now," Suncoast Animal League executive director Rick Chaboudy said. "It's a unique and pretty exciting opportunity."
O'Neal, however, said that Clover would not be allowed to attend collective bargaining sessions or partake in union negotiations.
Contact Divya Kumar at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @divyadivyadivya.