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Darryl Steen nuzzles his one-year-old pit bull Diamond, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010 at the Castro Valley, Calif. veterinarian where she's been convalescing since a fire destroyed Steen's Hayward, Calif. apartment in October. "She saved our whole family, " said Steen, who credits the dog for awakening him in time to save his two daughters from an early morning electrical fire that completely consumed their home. (D. Ross Cameron/Staff)

HAYWARD -- The medical bills for a pit bull that helped save her owner's family from an apartment fire have been fully paid by donations from the community.

"I just want to thank everybody," said Darryl Steen, the owner of the dog, Diamond. "When something really bad happens, people seem to really want to help."

Steen faced more than $5,600 in medical bills for Diamond after the dog suffered severe smoke inhalation and second- and third-degree burns, the results of a fire at Steen's apartment on Oct. 24.

Diamond woke Steen up by barking just before fire ravaged the apartment he lived in with his two daughters.

All three people got out of the home safely, although Steen and his 16-year-old daughter, Sierra, severe suffered smoke inhalation and burns.

Diamond was taken to the Bay Area Veterinary Specialist and Emergency Hospital in San Leandro, where she spent the next few days receiving around-the-clock care. She then was moved to Eden Pet Hospital in Castro Valley and was released last week.

"All the donations from the community have been wonderful," said Jennie Comstock, Hayward's animal services manager and the person who handled donations sent in for Diamond.

Comstock said she is in the process of sending money back to donors now that Diamond's bills are covered.

She said she will likely tell the donors that they can re-donate the money, if they wish, to the shelter or the Steen family as they rebuild their lives.


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Steen said in the last few days he has found an apartment in Hayward that accepts dogs.

Steen said an account to help his family has been set up through Bank of America, under account number 0892576522. Donations may be made at any Bank of America branch.