‘I guess I knew I wanted to find him’: Owner rescues dog from Moultrie training facility fire

Several dogs were saved from the Real Life K9 facility.
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 6:18 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 25, 2023 at 7:03 PM EDT
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MOULTRIE, Ga. (WALB) — A deadly fire at a Moultrie dog training facility killed four dogs and left the facility in ruins. Thankfully, several dogs were able to be rescued from the blaze.

While now in shambles, several dogs were saved from the Real Life K9 facility. Dog owner Eli Rountree told WALB it was a scary situation, but once he saw there was a fire, he risked his life to save his dog.

“By the grace of the good Lord, I saw my dog from the back but the fire was already burning too hot where the gate of his kennel was. So, I jumped over the back wall of his kennel and threw him over the back. By the time I could jump back over the wall, I was already burnt up,” Rountree said.

Chief was one of many dogs rescued from the blaze.

Rountree says his dog, Chief, is very goofy but smart. He says he’s thankful one of his teachers led him to the back where the fire started.

Rountree says he didn’t realize how badly he was burned until after he rescued Chief.

“I hadn’t had him all that long when I sent him to the training. I don’t know what was going through my mind, what could of been going through my mind. Where is my dog? I guess I knew I wanted to find him. That’s what was going through my mind,” Rountree said.

Although four other dogs didn’t survive, the owners of the facility are trying to preserve what is left.

“It was just sheer panic and terror watching 30 years of destruction. 30 years of what I’ve built gone,” Jody Johnson, owner of Real Life K9, said.

Eli Rountree was one of the lucky ones that was able to save his dog, Chief, from the fire....
Eli Rountree was one of the lucky ones that was able to save his dog, Chief, from the fire. Although four other dogs died, owners of Real Life K9 are gathering the pieces.(Source: WALB)

One of the only things that were saved from the fire was the kennels. That’s because of the material they were built with. Those surviving kennels match Jody Johnson’s strength to keep going after the catastrophic fire.

“How horrible that is, how sorry we are those are the nightmares I have keeping me up at night,” said Johnson.

Johnson said he was hoping to pass down the facility to his son. Now he has to start from the ground up.

Although Johnson wants to try and start training dogs out of his home, it could take years to fully recover. But, he says he’s thankful for all the support.

“I have nothing but gratitude for everyone that ran back and put themselves in jeopardy to try and save everything they could,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s next steps are to try and start training the dogs again from his home and preserving the kennels that were left.