Dog believed to have been rescued by late owner in South Tampa fire gets new home

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A dog believed to have been rescued by his owner before he died in a South Tampa house fire last week has a new home with one of the man’s friends.

Beloved gardener John Starnes died in the fire on Paxton Avenue on Nov. 26, according to Tampa police.

Tampa Fire Rescue was able to locate his dog, Cracker.

Carol Childs, with the National Humane Society, believes Starnes was able to rescue Cracker, who suffered lung injuries before he died.

“So we speculate that he, John, must’ve put him through the bathroom window,” Childs explained.

Childs and Starnes had a mutual friend in Pam Lunn, of Dancing Goat Farms.

When Lunn saw on the news that her friend had died, she knew she had to take care of Cracker.

Childs was able to get Cracker out of the Pet Resource Center and hold him until his adoption was made official on Friday.

“I knew he had to come here. I just knew that John would want him with me,” Lunn said firmly.

She told 8 On Your Side she knew Starnes for years.

“And he would always tell me about Cracker. And we didn’t see each other a lot, because he’s in South Tampa, he had a stroke about five years ago, and he didn’t drive far, a block or two that was about it. So he didn’t get out here much, but we did correspond a lot via the wonderful world of Facebook,” she said.

Lunn said Cracker is adjusting well to farm life, saying he “just has the instinct in him.”

She’s also teaching him to herd her goats.

In addition to Cracker, Lunn is also caring for chickens she gave her friend.

“[They] were hatched from eggs that I gave John years ago. I don’t know how old those chickens are, they’re probably 5, 6, 7 years old.”

Though Lunn’s friend is gone, she said his spirit lives on with his beloved four-legged friend.

“I see John in Cracker’s eyes at times, when he looks at me,” she said through tears.

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