"I know of no higher fortitude than stubbornness in the face of overwhelming odds."
~ Louis Nizer

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March 16, 2011

A dog credited with saving the lives of her California family is desperately looking for a new home.

Her owner says that despite being named one of the nation's top ten "Valor Dogs" (pitchick edit: by H$U$), landlords are turning away "Diamond" because she's a pit bull.

Darryl Steen says Diamond woke him up when his apartment caught fire last October.

Diamond the Hero Dog

He was able to get one of his daughters to safety by dropping her out of a window, but couldn't reach the second child.

When firefighters finally got to her, Diamond was laying on top of the girl in an effort to protect her from the flames.

The dog suffered severe burns, but has recovered.

The Steen family is looking for a new home where they can live with Diamond, but so far dozens of landlords have turned them away.

Darryl Steen says that several landlords have told them that pets are welcome, only to renege when they learn that Diamond is a pit bull.

He says the breed's reputation shouldn't ruin the life of one proven hero.


Anyone with information regarding housing available in Hayward may contact Steen at 510-688-3707.

UPDATE 4/3/11:

By Chris Metinko
Oakland Tribune

HAYWARD -- Three months ago, Diamond the dog was being feted as a local hero. Now, according to her owner, no one is willing to give her a place to live.

Diamond helped save her owners, the Steen family, from a fire that raged through their apartment near Mission Boulevard on Oct. 24.

In December, donations for Diamond's $5,600 veterinary bill for injuries sustained during the fire poured in from the community at such a rate some had to be returned because the donations were more than the bill. The dog was even the guest of honor at Hayward's Santa Paws Parade that month.

Now, however, Darryl Steen said no one will rent an apartment to him because Diamond is a pit bull.

"Basically, everything's fine until they find out what type of dog Diamond is," said Steen, who is trying to find an apartment for himself and his two daughters in Hayward. "Once they find out, they say they only take small dogs, or they just don't call back."

He said he has been refused for nearly two dozen apartments even though he says he has good credit and no evictions.

He wants to stay in Hayward because his youngest daughter has been going to Hayward schools her entire life and he doesn't want to pull her out of the district.

He also said he is just as stubborn about not giving up Diamond.

"If I gave her up, my girls would never forgive me," he said.

Diamond awoke Steen the night of the fire by barking ferociously. Once Steen woke up, he was able to grab his 8-year-old daughter, Darahne, and drop her out of a second-story window to safety. His 16-year-old daughter, Sierra, also was awakened but suffered burns and extensive smoke inhalation. She was released from the hospital about a month after the fire.

Steen himself suffered burns on 30 percent of his body -- including his arms, back and feet -- and spent weeks in the hospital.

Diamond, a 1-year-old gray and white pit bull, suffered severe smoke inhalation and second- and third-degree burns and was released from the Eden Pet Hospital in Castro Valley a few weeks before Christmas.

"I owe her everything, " Steen said after the incident.

Steen said he thought he had a place to live in December, just about the time stories about Diamond starting appearing in the news.

"As soon as the pictures of Diamond got out, the owners wouldn't even call me back," Steen said.

For now, Steen and his daughters are living with his sister, while Diamond must stay with a friend of the family because his sister's apartment also does not allow dogs.

Steen, who works as a forklift operator in Fremont, said he should be able to get back to work this month, having recovered from injuries and burns he sustained during the fire.

He hopes his life will return to normalcy when he finds a new apartment.

"We just need a place to live," Steen said.

"But I won't give up my dog."

Anyone with information regarding housing available in Hayward may contact Steen at 510-688-3707.


UPDATE 5/6/2011

LOS ANGELES (NBC) -- Diamond, a 15-month-old, pit bull was hailed as a hero on Wednesday.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles presented Diamond with their 29th Annual National Hero Dog award.

Last October 24, Diamond woke his family from a sound sleep when their Hayward apartment caught fire.

Diamond's owner, Darryl Steen, grabbed his 9-year-old daughter Darahne and dropped her to safety out of a second story window. He said he couldn't find his 16-year-old daughter, Sierra, who was hiding under a mattress in her father's room, but Diamond found her.

Firefighters spotted the gray-and-white pit bull on the mattress shielding Sierra, Steen said.

Steen and Sierra were hospitalized for weeks with burns, and had to have skin grafts. Diamond spent six weeks at a pet hospital, being treated for burns and smoke inhalation.

"If it wouldn't have been for that dog, there is no way any of us would be here," said Steen.

Pit bull's are often cited in the news about vicious attacks, and the most abandoned and euthanized dog in the country, but Diamond's owner say that bad reputation has to stop.

"Stop discriminating against a pit bull, because you can see what a dog can do for you," said Steen. "I wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for this dog."

With her title, Diamond gets a plaque, dog food for a year.