Brave assistance dog aids 9/11 firefighter — two heroes who are the ‘perfect match’
Retired FDNY Firefighter and 9/11 first responder Tom Prin is training with a companion dog named Halona.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
These two heroes were destined for each other.
Tom Prin, a retired firefighter, has a new four-legged partner — an assistance dog named Halona.
The two will graduate Friday from a rigorous, two-week-long training session at Canine Companions for Independence on Long Island.
But it turns out they both have a history of rescuing people from fires.
Prin is a 9/11 first responder who retired in 2005 after a series of on-the-job injuries left him with back and breathing problems.
And Halona’s sharp senses and dogged determination saved her previous family from a house fire at the Jersey Shore in 2015.
Halona, seen here as a puppy, was raised to be a companion dog to help people with disabilities.
“It’s crazy we kind of found each other in this world,” said Prin, 45, a married father of two young boys from Holtsville, L.I., who only found out about Halona’s unique background two days ago. “She was always my top choice.”
Prin was stationed at Ladder 112 in Bushwick, Brooklyn, from 1999 to 2005 until he retired on disability.
Halona, a 2-year-old Labrador retriever/golden retriever mix is specially trained to help Prin with issues such as keeping his balance and picking up dropped items.
But her schooling started as a puppy when the King family of Bucks County, Pa., volunteered to raise her from the age of 8 weeks to 18 months.
“This is just amazing, we are all excited about it,” said Gina King, who is driving up with her family for the Friday graduation ceremony. “They are a perfect match.”
King said the family was on vacation in Ocean City, N.J. on July 5, 2015, when the usually-well behaved pooch refused to go into the house they rented.
After the family coaxed her inside, Halona woke them up a short time later with hysterical barking.
“We didn’t realize there was a smoldering fire in the apartment on the first floor,” King said. “The firefighters told us there would have been fatalities if she hadn’t woken us up. The fire moved quickly.”
Now Halona is getting ready to settle into her new Long Island digs and is best buds with Prin’s sons.
And Prin is grateful for the love and attention the pup received from the Kings.
“I can’t believe what they have done — the sacrifices they made and then had to let her go,” he said. “She is hardworking but when she is allowed to just be a dog she will play fetch or just put her head in your lap and look at you. Whatever you need, she gives.”