Pike Township fire dog comes in second in 'Chicago Fire' contest

Dempsey has undergone several surgeries since being set on fire intentionally by a juvenile.
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A local dog won't become a star, despite all the people who voted to make him top dog on TV.

Dempsey is a boxer mix that was burned and abandoned as a puppy. Now he helps Pike Township firefighters teach children about fire safety.

Dempsey was a finalist to appear on the NBC show "Chicago Fire." He came in second place but still got a chance to appear on the TODAY Show.

A Labrador retriever named Smokey from Illinois won the contest.

Dempsey was intentionally set on fire by a juvenile in May 2011. He was burned and abandoned at just eight weeks old. The fire burned all four paws (he has no toes, no nails, no pads), all four legs, his underbelly, and part of his tail. 

Despite all his limitations, Dempsey's pretty carefree. He walks more slowly than most dogs. Dempsey's toenails melted down to the bone as a result of the abuse. His underbelly is scarred and part of his tail is gone.

Eyewitness News first introduced you to Dempsey when he was just ten weeks old. He was found in an alley in New Castle after rescuers say a teenager set him on fire, rinsed him with water, and left Dempsey to die.

"He's got a great personality. He loves to be loved which almost doesn't make sense because of how he was treated as a baby," said Eileen Orban, Pike Township FD.

Orban saw our story, adopted Dempsey and uses him to teach children about fire safety in Pike Township.

"We also use him to promote to accept everyone for their differences," said Orban.

Dempsey has had ten surgeries. Dr. Nicolas Vecchio with IndyVet donated surgery time to make Dempsey's life better.

"Our goal was not to make him normal. He doesn't have all the body parts. He is pain-free and has a better quality of life," said Dr. Nicolas Vecchio.

Because of his bravery, Dempsey was a finalist to appear on the TV show Chicago Fire as their "Top Firehouse Dog."

Last Tuesday, Dempsey made his television debut on the TODAY Show in New York.

"I think he already won. Dempsey won his own battle despite," said Dr. Nicolas Vecchio.

Meantime, Eileen Orban, Pike Township FD's public educator, uses Dempsey's battle scars to show kids (adults too) the damage that fire can do if played with or used inappropriately. 

Dempsey has definitely fulfilled those goals.  Since his adoption in June 2011, he visits area burn camps, he has visited preschoolers through senior citizens, he participates in Juvenile Firesetting interviews, and has warmed his way into many hearts. 

You can visit him on Facebook at Dempsey Ptfd.

The second season of "Chicago Fire" begins Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 10 PM (ET/PT). The series, which garnered growing ratings success and acclaim as its freshman season progressed, is produced by Universal Television and Wolf Films.

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