LACKAWANNA (WKBW) His story has touched the lives of animal lovers and beyond, and Eyewitness News has been tracking the progress of Phoenix the puppy. Saturday night the dog made one of his first ever public appearances at a fundraiser, and the response was "overwhelming."
He was the star of the show. Phoenix the puppy, just four months after he was found badly burned, is now nearly recovered and sharing love with the Western New York community.
"He is on a wonderful road to recovery. He just had his hopefully last surgery on Monday, so hopefully in the next 4-6 weeks we can give the public a better idea of when he will go up for adoption," event organizer Michelle Gould said.
The heart-clad canine posed for photos with animal lovers and licked nearly everyone in sight.
"I think he's adorable. I can't understand how anyone could hurt that cute perfect little animal," one event attendee said.
"It proves that animals will come back. That they're man's best friend," Bill Daigler added.
It was all part of "Paws for Love," an annual fundraiser for the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter. All money raised at the event will help pay for medical treatments for animals just like Phoenix.
"Even though Phoenix draws a big crowd, there are many more animals that people never see that are in Phoenix's same situation that need people's help just as much as he does," Michelle Gould added.
The horrific story of this dog that was intentionally lit on fire has become a rallying point, and has caused increased awareness and support of the local animal assistance community.
"So you have this horrible story of what originally happened to him, but there is so much more good that has come out of it, because of all of these people (at the event) and that is what Western New York is all about," animal lover Rosanne Marek said.
Organizers say they hoped to double last year's fundraising total of eight thousand dollars, and as of late Saturday night, they were well on their way to that goal.