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Four Wyoming County residents believe they probably would not be alive if not for Spanky, a 12-year-old pitbull.

In late November, after living for years in the home of Ray Barlow Jr., the dog began acting hysterical and terrified each time it entered the North Main Street house in Gainesville.

The situation went on for about a week earlier this month before Barlow’s family contacted Thomas Purcell, a retired police officer and dog behavior expert.

“[Spanky] was OK on the porch, but when we got inside the house, he started whining, panting and showing extreme anxiety,” Purcell said. “Meanwhile, the people living in the house were telling me they were having headaches and other symptoms for a week.”

The family called National Fuel on Dec. 4. When inspectors visited the house, they found a carbon monoxide leak, which Barlow said was immediately fixed.

Barlow, 30, lives in the home with his girlfriend, Chena Carlin, and another friend, Craig Poler. Barlow’s 11-year-old daughter stays there on weekends.

Barlow said he believes all four residents might have become seriously ill, or died, if not for Spanky’s behavior.

“In my mind, they all could have died in their sleep if not for that dog,” Purcell said. “It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.”

email: dherbeck@buffnews.com