Pitbull puppy Rambo is not even a year old, yet he’s experienced more than most pups do in a lifetime.
“He’s had a long road in a short life,” Marcelo Miranda said, as he rubbed Rambo’s tummy.
Not only was Rambo severely injured while trying to flee from the Tick Fire last October, but earlier this month, he also broke one of his already injured legs.
Still, the Miranda family hasn’t given up on him, vowing that they won’t let him go.
The Mirandas had just settled into their newly purchased home in Canyon Country when the Tick Fire raged through their neighborhood, burning right up to their backyard.
Marcelo’s father, Claudio, and daughter Abbie, who was 9 at the time, were at home with Rambo when Abbie noticed that the sky was glowing red.
“(Marcelo) works in Glendale, I work in Chatsworth (and) my son was in Burbank,” Marcelo’s wife, Jenny, said, which meant Claudio and Abbie were stranded at home without a car. “It was scary.”
“At this point, (Rambo) and my grandpa were sleeping, so I had to wake both of them up,” Abbie added. “I just started screaming because I was so scared.”
Though panicked, Abbie began asking some of their neighbors, many of whom were already leaving their homes, for help.
A neighbor with two dogs of her own agreed to take them, so Abbie and her grandpa squeezed into the truck while Rambo rode in the bed, and though his leash was wrapped tightly around Claudio’s hand, Rambo still managed to jump out.
“The leash broke,” Abbie said. “And we couldn’t do anything because we were moving.”
It wasn’t until after the fact that they found out the whole story, hearing from witnesses. “He actually went rolling on the concrete until he hit the sidewalk,” Marcelo said.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Miranda family were doing their best to return to Santa Clarita, as they started getting calls from other evacuees.
“They said, ‘Your dog’s really hurt, but we can’t take him because we don’t have space in the car, so we’re just going to leave him here on the road,’” Marcelo’s son Matthew said.
Finally, they got a call from a garbage truck driver who told them Rambo was in bad shape, but she was taking him to Sand Canyon Plaza so they could pick him up.
“The emotions I felt in that moment were just crazy,” Marcelo said, shaking his head. “He was completely destroyed, so I (wrapped him in a) blanket and he just laid on my shoulder.”
Rambo had suffered severe road rash. All four paws were missing their pads and the bottom portion of his legs were degloved.
After going to a vet, who wrapped up Rambo’s legs, the family made their way to the evacuation center at College of the Canyons, which is where they met the Little Angels Project, a nonprofit animal rescue that had come to assist.
“When he came to the shelter where the evacuees were, we intervened,” said Yvette Berke, community outreach manager at the nonprofit. “We were just at the right place at the right time, but it was divine intervention for that dog.”
Because the rescue had previously treated severe burns during the Woolsey Fire, they were more than willing to do the same for Rambo, Berke added.
“Rather than have them surrender a dog they obviously cared (about) and loved, we took on the fiscal responsibility,” she said. “When people truly love (their animals), it makes it easy.”
Rambo spent the next couple of months with them as he needed multiple surgeries, bandage changes and daily care, while Marcelo and Jenny would alternate going to visit him as often as they could.
Rambo continued to heal nicely after being released from the Little Angels Project, and was able to play and jump again in no time.
“He was doing fine, (and was a) happy normal dog again,” Marcelo said.
That is until Marcelo got Abbie balloons for her 10th birthday a few weeks ago.
As any puppy would, Rambo got a little too excited while chasing after those shiny, floaty things.
“This dude was going crazy,” Matthew said. “He was jumping on the sofa, trying to get the balloons. (Then,) I see him jump up and he lands on one leg and I hear a snap.”
The Mirandas took him to an after-hours vet, where they were given two options: pay $7K for surgery or amputate his leg.
“If we didn’t love him as much as we do, I would’ve given him up for adoption because it’s a lot of money,” Marcelo said.
Thankfully, a friend referred them to a different vet, who gave them a discount, and Rambo is now recovering from surgery.
“I know you want to play,” Marcelo said to Rambo as he sat whining. “It’s very frustrating. He can’t do anything. We have to keep him calm.”
Though the Mirandas have only had Rambo for a few months, Jenny said they still believe everything happens for a reason.
“He already went through a lot, (and) the thing is that he survived,” Marcelo added. “The way we see it is that something bad happened and he paid the price. If it wasn’t him who fell, it could have been another person in my family.”
Instead, Rambo took the damage, and they will forever love him for it.
To help Rambo and his family, visit bit.ly/RamboMiranda.