Ready for an inspiring story to kick off the New Year? An Atlanta man, who has been homeless since he was 13, ran into a burning building and saved all the animals inside. And his heroic actions have now led to more than $80,000 being raised to help him and his pitbull.
Keith Walker was heading to pick up his dog, Bravo, from W-Underdogs in South Atlanta on Dec. 18 when an electrical fire started in the organization’s kitchen.
“I was nervous as hell, I’m not going to lie,” Walker told CNN. “I was really scared to go in there with all that smoke. But God put me there to save those animals.”
“If you love a dog, you can love anyone in the world,” Walker continued. “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.”
Walker and Bravo are seen with W-Underdogs’ founder, Grace Hamlin, below left, in this Dec. 28 Facebook post by the organization. Hamlin has let Walker keep his dog at the shelter each night and has given Walker odd jobs to do at the shelter.
Hamlin said W-Underdogs has received “a flood of requests on how people can help Mr. Keith Walker, the hero who saved our animals from the fire.”
A GoFundMe has been started on his behalf and has well exceeded its original fundraising goal of $5,000, with almost $82,000 collected as of Jan. 4. But Hamlin said Walker doesn’t yet want to accept help or money.
“While we are certainly appreciative of the outpouring of recognition for his selfless deed, it is also important to respect his perspective on what he may feel he does or does not want in terms of help,” a Dec. 27 Facebook post about Walker read.
W-Underdogs is looking for an organization experienced with those who are homeless to assist them with determining the best use of the funds raised for Walker, who is pictured here in a post from the W-Underdogs Facebook page with his best friend, Bravo.
Pronounced “Wonderdogs,” the nonprofit is part animal shelter and part youth organization. Its mission is to help both kids and animals by rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming dogs, giving out dog food and dog houses, and doing community outreach. Local youth help with all of those efforts while finding a safe place to spend their downtime.
W-Underdogs was featured on a February 2020 episode of the Facebook Watch show “Returning the Favor,” hosted by Mike Rowe of “Dirtiest Jobs” TV fame. Take a look at the episode below.
After the fire, W-Underdogs had to speed up its transition from its old headquarters, now uninhabitable due to fire damage, to its newer one, which is undergoing renovation. All the animals — six dogs and 10 cats — that Walker rescued from the fire have been moved to the new facility.
Hamlin told CNN she is so grateful Walker was there to save the animals.
“He is my guardian angel,” she said.
Thank goodness for this brave and selfless animal-lover!