Colonial Heights family says dog saved them from potential vacation disaster

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WRIC) — A Colonial Heights family is crediting their dog with saving their lives after their vacation cabin.

The family told 8News Reporter Parker Slaybaugh that there was no working smoke detector in that cabin. Now, the Ridpath family is urging to always check for a working detector — even when you’re vacationing.

“The dog who was under the covers, he popped up and walked to the end of the bed and he started whimpering loud enough that he was indicating that something was wrong,” Tracey Ridpath explained. “The whole cabin was just full of smoke.”

The Ridpaths admit they did make a mistake by placing luggage on top of what appeared to be a non-working heater. After all, temperatures outside were 80 degrees, the family said.

“The things that were on top of the heater were basically flaming red,” T. Ridpath said.

Tracey’s daughter was asleep on the couch just a few feet away.

“The smoke was probably affecting her because I screamed at her ‘get out, get out!'” T. Ridpath said.

Thankfully no one was injured, and the family is giving all the credit to their alert pooch. But they wonder, why was it up to the dog to wake them? What about the smoke detectors in the cabin?

“When they did check the smoke detector, he opened  it up assuming it was a dead battery and he said, ‘well, part of the problem is the battery is in backwards.’ It was probably a dead battery and a previous tenant, a previous visitor got tired of it chirping in the middle of the night, so they took it out put it back in backwards,” Rick Ridpath said.

Now, the two school teachers are making it their mission to prevent a similar incident from happening to anyone else.

“When you go to a hotel or motel or a cabin you’re on vacation and nothing is going to happen to you on vacation so you don’t think to  check that and that is something we will always do.”

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