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Michael Anderson, Deseret News
Jackie Anderson holds Peanut, one of her four dogs. Anderson was injured in an accident on July 3. While she was transported to the hospital, Brigham City firefighter Tyler Petersen noticed her dogs needed medical attention. At the vet's office it was determined two of the dogs, Trixie and Brandy, needed medical treatment. Petersen paid the vet bill.

CORINNE, Box Elder County — Jackie Anderson expressed her gratitude Friday for a firefighter who went above and beyond when he gave his own money to keep her dogs alive following a car accident.

“I thank you more than anything in this whole world,” Anderson told Tyler Petersen. “These dogs mean everything to me. They’re my whole life.”

She says at least two of her family's four dogs might not be alive today if it wasn’t for the kindness of Petersen, who paid the medical bills out of his own pocket.

Anderson was badly hurt when her vehicle was rear-ended while going south on I-15 near Perry on July 3.

“I just remember something slamming into the back of my car, and then I remember it swinging me around, and then I was facing the other way in the median,” she said. “I remember the jaws of life. I remember that crunching sound of my door coming off."

She was transported to the hospital. She suffered 16 breaks or fractures throughout her rib cage, had seven stitches over her eye and was bruised all over.

Petersen, a Brigham City firefighter, was on the scene and noticed four dogs in Anderson’s vehicle. He knew they also needed medical attention.

“When she was being transported, we were trying to decide what to do with the animals at that point, and (I) didn’t hesitate to say, 'Let’s get them taken care of.'"

Three of the dogs were taken to a nearby Canyon View Animal Health Center.

Anderson said her boys showed up at the clinic and didn’t know what to do. Little Trixie, 11, a golden poodle, had a broken pelvis and needed surgery.

Brandy, 10, the black poodle, was having trouble breathing. They didn’t have money to pay the vet and considered putting Brandy to sleep to end her suffering. There was a 50/50 chance that she would make it, Anderson said.

“Then Tyler here stepped up and said, 'No, I'll take care of it,’” she said.

Today, Brandy is doing great.

“I’m just so grateful. I’m so grateful for you,” Anderson told Petersen.

X-rays were done on Emmy, the 1-year-old black lab, but no injuries were found; and 6-year-old golden poodle Peanut was not hurt.

The generosity doesn’t stop there. After two employees at the clinic heard what the firefighter did, they decided to volunteer their time to cut down on the cost.

Petersen said when it came to doing his part, the decision wasn’t hard to make.

“I love my animals, and I would do anything for them,” he said. “Animal lovers are all alike, I would like to think.”

Petersen told Anderson he was happy he could help.

"No, you did more than help. Nobody else would ever have put their money out and their time like you did,” she told him. Then while hugging him she said, “Tyler, I thank you more than anything in this whole wide world.”

Anderson was in the hospital for five days. She said her dogs are her kids and mean the whole world to her.

“I was just so, I just started to cry when they told me that somebody had actually taken them in and paid the bill. He’s just a hero.”

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc