Naama Barak
July 24, 2023

Earlier this summer, firefighters in Jerusalem were battling a blaze threatening a hospital when they heard faint wails emanating from the forest. The cries led them to the discovery and rescue of nine tiny puppies surrounded by a ring of fire.

“We were called to extinguish a forest fire in the Mount of Olives neighborhood that threatened the local hospital and nearby homes,” recounts firefighter Sgt. Majd Huseen from the Jerusalem District of the Israel Fire and Rescue Authority.

“We quickly arrived at the scene, spread out around the fire and carried out extinguishing operations that succeeded in stopping the fire from advancing toward the hospital and the neighborhood,” he says.

“While we were extinguishing the fire, I identified nine puppies situated inside a tree trunk in the area that was going up in flames and was about to get burned,” he says.

Jerusalem firefighters rescue puppies from blaze
Firefighter Sgt. Majd Huseen and the puppies he rescued from a Jerusalem forest fire. Photo courtesy of the Israel Fire and Rescue Authority Jerusalem District

The puppies’ mother, the firefighters guessed, had probably managed to escape.

“We extinguished the fire around them so that it wouldn’t get any nearer, and I called on the firefighter with me to pick up the dogs and bring them to the fire truck for some air conditioning.”

The firefighters then gave the puppies drinking water and took them to the municipality’s veterinary services for further care. After they were declared healthy, the veterinary services returned the puppies to the spot where they were found.

Happily, they were reunited with their mother, who had returned to the scene looking for them.

Trees in his honor

This recent fire was not the first time Huseen had rescued animals from a blaze.

As a firefighter for the past four years, he has rescued plenty of cats and dogs, he notes. The difference this time round, he adds, is that they took a photo of the animals they saved.

For Huseen’s brave rescue, the JNF-USA is planting trees in his honor.

“This is such a powerful story on so many levels,” says Penny Rosen, the Jewish National Fund-USA Fire & Rescue Task Force chairwoman.

“By planting trees in Israel in honor of this firefighter’s bravery and compassion, we also recognize the tireless efforts of all Israeli first responders who save lives and livelihoods every day.”

“I’m glad that we managed to save the lives of these little puppies and to prevent them from being burned alive,” Huseen adds.

“Please, don’t light fires in open areas. Aside from the great danger that these fires pose to the public and property, and the large swaths of nature that they consume, we also come across many cases of animals that lose their lives in this cruel and horrible way as a result of these fires,” he says.

“Nature belongs to us all; take care of it.”

More on Earth

More on Dogs