Family thanks pair of sisters for saving dogs from burning home

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- An Independence family whose house caught fire says their dogs are still alive today because of good Samaritans.

"My wife's like, 'that's our house! It's on fire!'" said Jared Watson, who came home with his wife and three kids to flames billowing out of their house.

"I said, 'I'm the homeowner, and what`s going on, where are my dogs?' And they told us that somebody had gotten at least one of the dogs out, and pointed to her," added Watson.

They pointed to 21-year-old Heather Auffert. She and her sister, Teri-Anne, who live nearby, drove past Watson's house on their way home.

"Out the back window were just so many flames," said Auffert. "We just pulled in to see if anyone was home to make sure they were okay."

The two neighbors were outside knocking on the window, but quickly realized no one was home. They told the girls there were two dogs trapped inside.

"Our first instinct was bust down a door or window and get them out," Auffert said. "They took down the screen, and we hopped through the window and went in."

One dog was too scared and wouldn't go with the sisters.

"I just ran to the kitchen, I found pizza in the fridge, and I lured it with some pizza and me and my sister got it out of the house," Auffert said.

They kept looking for the second dog, but couldn't find her. The firemen arrived, and the Watsons shortly afterwards.

"A few minutes later she came running around the corner to my wife," said Watson about his dog.

Watson calls the girls heroes, and says it's amazing that complete strangers would risk their lives for his dogs.

"Thank god that there are people like her out there that risk saving something that is so important to us, our dogs are almost like our children to us... and somebody rescued them," Watson said

"I have a dog, and if that was my dog and someone drove by, I know I would want them to do everything they could to save her," said Auffert, "I also saw the toys, so I knew there were children that lived here, and I was like, I can't let this dog die, I can't have these kids come home to no home and no puppies."

Firefighters told Watson they believe the fire started from the heat lamp in their pet turtle's terrarium. The turtle did not make it.

The family has insurance, and is hoping to rebuild with what's left, but they say the most important thing is that everyone is safe -- including their four legged family members. Auffert also set up a GoFundMe account to help the family with damage costs.