GOSHEN TWP., Ohio – A heroic boxer named Carmen is making a valiant effort to recover after she tried to save her owner's life in a fatal house fire on Thursday.
"All things considered she's doing quite well," said Dr. Daniel Carey on Saturday morning.
Carey is one of the veterinarians at Cincinnati Care Center taking care of the chocolate-colored 9-year-old boxer who was placed on a ventilator Friday evening. Veterinarians believe the move may be the reason she's still alive.
"She is definitely still considered very critical but she is certainly in better condition than she was before we put her on the ventilator," said another vet, Dr. Marlo Anderson, on Friday.
As smoke and flames filled the basement of Ben Ledford's Goshen Township home Thursday, Carmen was found trying to save his life, firefighters told neighbor Ron Mitchell.
"When the fire department did get to Ben, his dog was laying over his face protecting him," Mitchell said.
The K9 suffered severe lung damage because of intense heat and smoke. Ledford died a short time after he was taken to an area hospital.
Once Carmen was hooked up to the ventilator she was sedated and made comfortable while her lungs heal.
"Had we not been able to put her on this (ventilator), I definitely think she would have passed away," Anderson said. "We do have about a 50 percent on average success rate once they go on the ventilator for something like this that they'll be able to come off the ventilator."
Veterinary staff began weaning Carmen off of the ventilator Sunday, Carey said.
"And that's the next critical phase," he said.
Carmen also remains attached to an IV and telemetry to monitor her heart. She seems to be reacting positively to treatment, Carey said.
"Keeping her in this kennel enables us to get the oxygen levels a little bit higher than we normally would in that case, as well as minimizing any stress for her movements," Anderson said.
The biggest test Sunday will be whether or not Carmen will breath on her own once the ventilator is removed.
"Does her body respond?" Carey said.
Carmen's heroic act didn't surprise Anderson.
"A lot of dogs instinctively know when there's a crisis going on and so a lot of them do go to try to protect their owners, so she very well may have been trying to protect him," Anderson said.
And while Carmen struggles to recover, her spirit was still intact before she was sedated.
"She seems to be very social, so anytime we are over here with her she's kind of up and trying to interact with us as best she can," Anderson said.
It has not been easy for the staff at the care center knowing the circumstances that brought Carmen to them.
"It's definitely, I would say a little bit of a somber mood taking care of her knowing her owner is no longer able to be with her," Anderson said.