Courtesy Incredible-Bull Rescue

Over the past few weeks, there have been several dog sightings that match Simba's description

February 07, 2019 02:40 PM

The search for Simba is still on.

The shelter dog went missing on Jan. 14, when a fire broke out at West Chicago’s D&D Kennels — the boarding and training facility where Simba was being temporarily housed by Incredi-Bull Rescue of Alexis, Illinois.

According to the Chicago Tribune, kennel operator Garrett Mercado left his apartment, which is on the second floor of the kennel building, briefly on the morning of the Jan. 14 and when he returned there was a sizable fire in the apartment’s kitchen.

The fire was reported at 5:30 a.m. and firefighters arrived at the scene shortly after the call was made. Mercado, who was training many of the dogs at the kennel so they could find forever homes, tried to save as many of the canines as he could before authorities arrived.

“I was just opening as many doors as I could, hoping they would follow me out,” Mercado told the Tribune.

Despite Mercado’s efforts, and those of the fire department, at least 30 dogs died in the blaze, Tanner J. Smith, the founder and director of Incredi-Bull Rescue, told PEOPLE, adding that the cause of the fire remains unknown.

Smith is one of many affected by this tragic incident. His rescue, which started in 2018 and is dedicated to helping animals who have been abandoned by society, lost one dog in the blaze – a sweet canine named Koko. The other dog the rescue was boarding at the facility, Simba, is still missing.

Simba went missing during the fire along with several other dogs, but he is the only canine that hasn’t been found.

“We are praying that Simba is still out there … alive,” Smith shared.

The rescue founder has been able to hold out hope thanks in part to the supportive animal rescue community in the Chicago area.

“The fire brought forth many, many organizations and emergency response organizations. All joining together to help as much as everyone could. Their has also been search and rescue groups pulling together to help locate Simba,” he added.

Additionally, there have been several Simba sightings over the weeks the dog has been missing, including some sightings that “completely matched” Simba’s description.

“At this time we just want people to be on alert, and keeping an eye open for him. Dogs are very resilient, and he could have traveled quite a distance seeking shelter. Especially as he was probably in shock, and the will to survive ‘fight or flight’ has surely kicked in,” Smith said on how others can help bring the dog home.

Those outside of the Chicago area can help Simba and Incredi-Bull Rescue by sharing the missing’s dog story and image with those they know in the Chicago area.

“Our next steps consist of keeping the word out revolving Simba, and trying our best to remain hopeful … as tough as this may be. Its very easy for us to assume the worse, especially at this point. Though Simba deserves for us to continue to search for him,” Smith said.

Courtesy Incredible-Bull Rescue

If you believe you have recently seen Simba, please call 779-875-6309. Do not attempt to chase the dog as this may cause them to run in fear and into danger.

There is a GoFundMe set up to help all the rescues affected by the kennel fire. To learn more about Incredi-Bull Rescue and how you can help with their life-saving work, please visit the rescue’s website.

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