A dog saved a family from a house fire in Westchester County, but ran away in the chaos and is still missing.
Nero, a 10-year-old Newfoundland, started barking wildly on Sunday, waking Maria Eliseo and her daughter Marie, who had been asleep in their Yorktown Heights home, the family said.
“All of a sudden I woke up and Nero was basically over me on the wall over the couch,” Marie said. “And he was barking the scariest howling cry that I've ever heard him do before in my life."
Marie said she could barely see because black smoke was filling the room. She ran outside and around the house to her mother's second-floor bedroom window.
“The window shattered and when I saw flames, the smoke got really thick and dark,” Marie said. “If it weren’t for Nero, I would not have gotten out in time.”
Her mother, Maria, was hanging out the window. She was recovering from a hip surgery three weeks earlier and could not make it down the stairs. Their neighbors, including Brian Avery, grabbed an extension ladder and climbed up to get her.
“Within four or five minutes of getting her out, flames started pouring through the windows, it was incredible," Avery said.
Amid the chaos of the fire rescue, no one recalls seeing Nero, a 150-pound dog, run away. They believe he is alive because they didn't find his remains in the rubble, while they did find their three other dogs -- an English bull dog, a husky, and a Chihuahua mix -- all dead from smoke inhalation.
There have been several sightings of Nero, including one on Wednesday in another neighborhood.The Eliseos have plastered shopping centers and supermarkets with missing posters.
“If you see him, it’s important not to chase him,” Maria's husband, Giulio Eliseo, said. “Just kneel down and he’ll come to you. He’s a big teddy bear. In fact, he looks like a small bear, but he’s very friendly and he loves doggie biscuits.”
As the family tries to make the most of this Thanksgiving, they are praying that they will soon be reunited with their beloved Nero.
"Just find Nero,” said Marie Eliseo, barely holding back tears. “We just want him home because if it wasn't for him, we wouldn't be alive."
A Facebook page has been set up to collect donations for the family.