Kirby the dog hailed as hero in discovering Greendale church fire

Published on: 12/30/2011

If every dog has its day, then Kirby's was Christmas.

That's the day the 10-year-old pooch, part border collie and part Australian cattle dog, became a hero - if an unassuming one.

Kirby, a rescue dog who belongs to Fred Saunders of Greendale, was just doing what he does naturally. It was early morning and nature called.

Saunders took him to the backyard, and that's when Saunders noticed the flashing fire alarms inside St. Alphonsus Parish and School. There was no smoke and no fire, but Saunders nonetheless called the Police Department's nonemergency number. Within minutes, Saunders said, squads and fire trucks were on the scene, fighting what ended up being a blaze that caused $200,000 in damage to the building. No cause has been determined.

Saunders isn't sure Kirby is deserving of the attention he's been getting from church officials and staff, which gave him a bag of biscuits and a chew toy when Kirby visited the scene Thursday. "He didn't want to go out," Saunders said.

But the Rev. Alan Jurkus thinks otherwise. In a posting on the church's website, Jurkus wrote: "I want to thank a neighborhood dog named Kirby. As I understand it, if not for him, his owner would not have seen the alarm lights … and would not have called in the alarm. I have been told that if the fire had not been reported for 10 more minutes, the fire would have destroyed much of our buildings."