The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

June 22, 2013

Fire victim saved her dog

By Nick Hildebrand
Herald News Editor/weekends

GROVE CITY — Kirsten Fellows’ love for her dog Sissy was great enough that her obituary mentioned that she died alongside the blonde long-haired Chihuahua in a fire Monday at her brother’s home.

That obituary will have to be corrected in light of what police found Thursday in the rubble of the burned home on McConnell Street in Grove City.

Sissy is alive.

Borough police Chief Dean Osborne confirmed that the tiny dog survived the Monday blaze that claimed Fellows, 43, of Bend Road Mercer, and her brother Brandon L. Fortuna, 28. Sissy was found zipped up in a backpack outside the house where her mistress died.

Osborne wouldn’t speculate how the dog got in that position or how it survived four days in the rucksack but Richard McDowell, Ms. Fellows’ fiancé, is pretty sure that she packed up her pooch and threw it out a second-story window.

“That was the type of person she was,” McDowell said Friday. “The last very heroic thing she did was making sure Sissy was safe.”

McDowell has Sissy now. He said she’s doing well after her ordeal and seemed happy to be reunited with two of the puppies she gave birth to on Christmas Day.

Thomas Swartz, the Humane Society agent who was called after Sissy was found, said the dog was in good condition after her ordeal. “It was surprising,” he said.

“Something horrible happened and something good came out of it,” Swartz said.

McDowell called Sissy a “miracle dog” and said saving the dog was in character for Ms. Fellows. “She was a special person,” he said.

He said having Sissy back may ease the pain of losing Ms. Fellows, whose death he said was “a hard one to swallow.”

McDowell said he’s sure that Sissy’s survival was the result of final selfless act by his fiancé, but “I wish the dog could talk to tell me.”