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Aviation group owner donates plane to fly injured Surfside comfort dog home to Philadelphia


By Nicole Linsalata

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    FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (WSVN) — A canine who served as an emotional relief dog after the Surfside collapse has received some much needed care of its own.

Teddy, a comfort dog, needed a lot of help to get home, and people in South Florida stepped up to help him get home.

“Teddy has a personality that just seems to draw your heart out,” Jeff Barrett, the dog owner’s father, said.

And in an environment with little hope like the rubble pile at Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Teddy did just that for first responders.

Sophia Barrett, Teddy’s owner, is from Hollywood but now lives in Philadelphia.

“It’s horrible what’s happening in Surfside, and to be able to be that bright spot in people’s days was a privilege,” she said.

Barrett and the 6-year-old rescue, a trained crisis response dog, spent three weeks in Surfside until he was injured. His back legs had stopped working.

Teddy is a basset hound lab mix, and he has a longer back, so his owner believes maybe that, along with a combination with being out on top of the rocks and the heat, may have led to the injury.

Teddy’s vet said flying home commercial would be too stressful, and a long drive would be too hard on him, so Sophia made an appeal for help. That’s when the Titan Aviation Group entered to help.

“When I’m having bad day, my dog puts a smile on my face,” Titan Aviation Group owner Dirk Vander Sterre said. “What he was doing down there was great. As soon as I saw it, I wanted to be involved.”

His company offered a ride on a Hawker 800 XP 8-seater aircraft.

“Teddy will have first-class service, of course,” pilot Jim Rozman said. “He’s going to be on a private jet and air conditioning, of course, and I’m sure he’ll have some access to water, as well.”

While Teddy needed some help getting up the stairs and some guidance making his way through the cabin, Teddy had a comfy couch all to himself.

Once he was settled and happy, the jet took off for Philadelphia, and the rescue of the rescuer was just about complete.

“He was out there and worked his heart out to meet all those people and to give them a lick and be friendly with them,” Jeff said.

“Big men that are in these rubbles were grabbing the dog’s face and just giving them a hug,” Rene Barrett, the dog owner’s mother, said. “It brings them relief.”

The donated flight would normally cost $10,000, and they have since touched down in Philadelphia.

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