Thousands of Conn. city residents vote on name for new firehouse dog
East Haven firefighters adopted the dog after rescuing it from a hot car
By Abby Weiss
New Haven Register
EAST HAVEN, Conn.—Nearly 7,000 people voted on a name for the East Haven Fire Department’s new puppy, which they rescued from a blazing hot car last Sunday.
The department asked the public to vote on the dog’s name through an online survey and “Riggs” was the winner, according to a Monday release from the office of East Haven’s Mayor Joseph A. Carfora.
“Each vote not only solidified a name but also underscored the vital role the community plays in fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie within the fire department,” Matt Marcarelli, East Haven’s fire chief, said in the release.
“Riggs is an Eastie now,” Carfora added.
Firefighters rescued the six-month-old dachshund-boxer-beagle mix on Aug. 20 from a car parked near Town Beach, Marcarelli confirmed in a message to Hearst Connecticut Media. It was 122 degrees inside the vehicle.
A citizen discovered the dog and an East Haven Animal Control officer called the fire department after they couldn’t find the owner. The puppy was brought to the East Haven Animal Shelter and it was in good health, Marcarelli confirmed. The owners surrendered the dog to Animal Control Officer Emily Higgins.
Carfora instantly fell in love with the puppy, and he received numerous phone calls requesting that he be adopted by town officials, the mayor’s office announced in a release Friday. Marcarelli and Ed Lennon, chief of the East Haven Police Department supported the idea and they decided to let the firefighters adopt him.
“He has a great temperament and will get along with the on-duty crews as well as be an ambassador to the department at public education and community events,” Carfora said the release.
The puppy will become a Station Support Dog, which helps firefighters cope with the stress of the job and can help mitigate the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the release. Stress and overextertion are a leading cause of death among firefighters, and many stations have adopted dogs to help reduce its effects, Carfora said in the release.
Marcarelli said in Friday’s release that the dog will "...live among the crews and will serve as a welcomed and friendly distraction from the trauma experienced in the course of their duties. Vet care, food and other expenses will be funded through donations.”