Most people know that CPR can save their loved ones in an emergency, but one Hastings dog is alive today because a stranger performed mouth-to-snout to save him after he was pulled from a burning home.
Jean Appert and her family are trying to salvage as much as they can from the wreckage after the blaze, and the Hastings mother remembers getting the call that told her that the place she had called home for 13 years was burning to the ground.
"I was just hoping for the best, trying to prepare for the worst -- but it didn't turn out that way," she said.
Thankfully, no one was home when the fire broke out, but the family's two dogs and a rabbit were still inside.
"We're animal loves," said Appert. "Our dogs are our best friends."
Appert said she knew her pets were still inside and that they were probably suffering, but Hastings firefighters went inside to pull the pets to safety -- and Appert says she is grateful.
"Honestly, they went over and beyond, I feel, what they needed to do," she said.
Shortly after firefighters pulled the pooches to safety, Appert's neighbor, Tara Mauch, did more than many people probably would for a strange pet, but Mauch told FOX 9 News that instinct took over when she saw Niko struggling to breathe.
"I was pacing back and forth, waiting for him to come out," she said. "I knew he just needed some air to blow the smoke out of his lungs."
So, Mauch performed mouth-to-snout on the 7-year-old dog.
"I was only worried for his health," she said.
Mauch said she was always the one to rescue animals when she was growing up, from cats and dogs to birds and turtles.
"I think you should have love and compassion for all living things -- and that includes neighbors," Mauch explained. "Think of other people as if they were you and your family."
On Tuesday at the Hastings Veterinary Clinic, it seemed strange to think either Niko or Brandi had ever been in a fire, but even though the vet said mouth-to-mouth is rarely done on animals, it may have made the difference in this case.
"She probably saved his life," said Appert. "I'm pretty sure she saved his life."
Mauch said it meant a lot to hear she helped save the family's dogs, because she knows that dogs are like family to their owners.
Unfortunately, Thumper, the Apperts' rabbit, did not survive despite being pulled to safety.
A bad charger or cable is thought to have sparked the blaze.