For Christina Skaggs, saying goodbye to a pup she rescued just wasn’t an option. 

By Emily Schroeder
April 26, 2021
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black puppy looking over woman's shoulder
Credit: Stephanie Kenner / Getty

This heart-warming story has a tag-wagging ending! Meet Trooper who was rescued during the devastating northern California wildfires last year. 

The small community of Berry Creek—two hours north of Sacramento—was devastated by the Northern Complex fires that crippled this area last fall. Among the debris was a puppy covered in soot and hiding in the rubble on a destroyed property. While searching the area, Butte County Sheriff Office deputies spotted Trooper underneath a trailer. The deputies reached out to Butte County Sheriff Search and Rescue Team, and volunteers responded immediately. 

Search and rescue volunteers were in the area checking properties burned by the fires to make sure no one was left behind. Rescue team volunteer Christina Skaggs told local news station KRCR that her crew received a call from the sheriff's office. They'd found a puppy "wedged up underneath a trailer" and had informed the local animal control department of the dog's location.

Skaggs explains that a fellow rescue team member was luckily carrying a slip-lead when they discovered the pooch. "We went up, got it around his neck, and walked out with no problem. He was licking on us, we gave him some water, he was very injured, so we turned him over to animal control to get the medical care that he needed," she told local news station KRCR in an interview. The puppy, later named Trooper, had suffered extensive burns to his body that day. Thankfully, he was taken to a local clinic that specializes in animal burns where he could receive the appropriate care needed for his injuries.

Most Good Samaritans would call it a day after knowing the animal they'd saved would receive veterinary care. But not Skaggs. After Trooper was taken in for medical care (then to be placed with animal services), Skaggs told local news that she realized he belonged with her. 

"We ended up fostering him through Butte Animal Control, and my husband said, 'Oh. He is just a foster, right? And I said 'No, my heart's already his, I can't give him up,'" says Skaggs. 

The International Fund for Animal Welfare recently posted an update to their Facebook page about Trooper, writing that only six months later, little Trooper is thriving. "His burn treatment is now complete, and he continues to receive excellent care and support from his veterinary team. He has also found his forever family who says he is a happy and playful puppy!"

Named the sixth-largest in California's modern history, the North Complex fire was completely contained on December 3, 2020, but not before the wildfires burned close to 319,000 acres. Despite the mass destruction, Butte County was able to share some positive news to their community the day Trooper was rescued. Finding Trooper was an "unexpected and welcomed discovery," the Butte County Sheriff's office said last September.

We're just so thankful that volunteers found Trooper when they did, and got him the help he needed. Now the spunky little dog can live his best life with Skaggs and her family—a happy ending for both the first responder and the pup she helped save.