(CNN) — Fans of a heroic dog who fought in vain to save her owner’s life in an Ohio house fire have donated more than $27,000 toward the $25,000 goal for the care of the 9-year-old boxer named Carmen.
The injured dog, owned by Ben Ledford of Goshen Township, is doing much better in an animal hospital recovering from smoke inhalation, said Phil Ledford, the victim’s brother, on the Crowdrise website.
“Our family continues to be amazed at the amount of donations, support, thoughts and prayers being said for our family and Carmen. We are still trying to find the right words to truly express our appreciation,” Ledford said in a Wednesday note.
“Carmen is still doing well,” said Ledford. The canine is now in physical therapy. “She’s working on being able to stand up on her own again, among other things. Because she’s fully awake and alert, our visits are short. We want her to save her energy for PT.
“It’s exciting to see her recognize us, try to greet us and give us expressions that show her personality shining through once again,” he said.
On Thursday, Carmen was “a little more awake” and her “appetite continues to improve as you can see she is cleaning her bowl.”
Many dog lovers posted messages with their donations.
“We have a boxer baby, and this act of devotion is not surprising,” Don and Lukasz Mallory wrote Friday on the crowdfunding site. “Prayers to the family for their loss and to Carmen for a fast recovery. If a dog can be this devoted to a human being, how much more should we be to each other.”
Carmen dramatically tried to save her owner’s life in the February 5 fire. Deadly flames licked all around her, but Carmen refused to leave her owner in a suburban Cincinnati basement.
First responders to the fire found Carmen on top of Ledford, trying to shelter his face from the heat, smoke and flame, according to CNN affiliate WCPO.
Ledford, 33, was taken to a hospital where he died. Carmen ended up at Cincinnati’s Care Center, a critical care veterinary hospital.
Carmen was initially battling severe lung damage, Dr. Daniel Carey, a vet at the hospital, told WCPO.
The canine was taken off a ventilator on Tuesday and began breathing on her own, according to the Facebook page of the animal hospital Care Center Vets in Cincinnati. She was to come off fluids and IV medications Friday.
Dr. Marlo Anderson, another vet at the hospital who is caring for the dog, told WCPO she was not at all surprised that Carmen tried to save her owner.
“A lot of dogs instinctively know when there’s a crisis going on and so a lot of them do go to try to protect their owners, so she very well may have been trying to protect him,” she said.
By Michael Martinez of CNN
CNN’s Doug Criss contributed to this report.