Firefighters honored for saving dog

Young-Williams Animal Center recently presented a brick that will be installed on its Walkway of Life path that leads into the shelter in honor of two local heroes. Knoxville Fire Department Capt. Robby Copas and firefighter Jeff McSwain saved Bella the boxer from a house fire in North Knoxville on April 30, 2015.

2015-05 YWAC Firefighters

Young-Williams Animal Center honored Knoxville Fire Department Capt. Robby Copas and firefighters Jeff McSwain for the lifesaving care they provided Bella the boxer during a house fire on April 30, 2015. Pictured from left: Copas, Ariona Thomas, Julyan Thomas, Cherie Cuervo, Bella the boxer, Dr. Jen Armstrong, Jeff Ashin and McSwain. Photo submitted.

“We felt it was important to recognize these two firefighters for the lifesaving care they provided to Bella,” said Jeff Ashin, CEO of Young-Williams Animal Center. “There are so many people in our community who do great things for animals, including these rescuers, and individuals and families who adopt from our shelter and donate time and money to animal welfare organizations. We are grateful to be able to honor Robby and Jeff with a brick of recognition on our pathway.”

When Copas and McSwain responded to the call on April 30, they found Bella unconscious on the bathroom floor. Upon removing the dog from the house, the firefighters gave Bella oxygen and cooled her body temperature with water from a booster tank.

“It is our responsibility to save any living being in danger when we respond to calls,” Copas said. “This time, it happened to be a dog, but the priority of saving her life never changed.”

Cherie Cuervo, Bella’s owner, thanked Copas and McSwain for their quick response and thoughtful care for Bella the boxer.

“Bella is my best friend,” Cuervo said. “I’m so thankful that they were able to respond to the call quickly and provide the care that was needed to save her life.”

Copas and McSwain appreciated the recognition from the shelter and the opportunity to reconnect with Bella.

“It’s so great to see her happy and healthy,” McSwain said. “We’re grateful to Young-Williams Animal Center for reuniting us with her and honoring us in this special way.”

To learn more about Young-Williams Animal Center, visit