Essexville dog hailed as hero for alerting owners to neighbors’ garage fire

March 6, 2022
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On a summer night in Essexville, a little Shih Tzu dog began acting strange, stirring about and causing his owners to look outside and notice their neighbors’ garage was aflame. Thanks to the dog’s rambunctious behavior, his owners alerted their sleeping neighbors to the fire, preventing what could have been a deadly outcome.

Now, the dog is being recognized as a hero for his life-saving actions.

Just before midnight on Aug. 16, Essexville Public Works Supervisor Jerome F. Reinke was asleep in bed as his wife Patti watched TV on the living room couch with the couple’s dog Auggie.

“The dog started acting kinda strange, riled up,” Reinke said.

Auggie pestered Patti Reinke to get up and look out a window, at which point she noticed her neighbors’ attached garage at 309 Plummer St. was on fire.

“She woke me up, and I ran outside in my underwear,” Reinke said. He and his wife went next door and awoke their neighbors as the flames started progressing into their house.

Reinke and his neighbor began spraying the fire with garden hoses until firefighters arrived and quelled the blaze.

“I think if it wasn’t for Auggie, they might well have perished in that fire,” Reinke said. “I was sound asleep and Patti was almost asleep. If it had been a few more minutes, that fire probably would have been in their house.”

The night of Tuesday, Feb. 8, the City of Essexville honored Auggie with a Certificate of Appreciation. The city council also bestowed the honor of Citizen of the Year upon Jerome Reinke.

“While Patti deserves praise for listening to Auggie, spotting the fire, and alerting Jerome, and Jerome deserves accolades for fearlessly entering the neighbor’s home to alert them, tonight the City of Essexville recognizes Auggie as a true hero and honors him with this certificate,” Jennifer Gradowski, Essexville city council member, said on Tuesday.

Jerome Reinke has worked in the Department of Public Works for 25 years. As the department’s supervisor, Reinke directs the maintenance of all the property in the city, including City Hall, Smith and Ransom Essex parks, street signage, sidewalks, trees, all city roads, underground pipes and pumps, and city vehicles and equipment.

“He is hands‐on, self‐motivated, knowledgeable, energetic, and possesses exceptional people skills,” Gradowski said. “He seems to always be on-call, especially on snowy Michigan nights and 2 a.m. water main breaks.”

Reinke was demur on being named Citizen of the Year, deferring the focus to Auggie, who turns 3 this spring.

“I think Auggie saved the day. I believe he’s the hero,” he said.

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