New Yorkers helped raise more than $50,000 in one day for the internet-famous “hugging dog” Louboutina and her owner Cesar Fernandez-Chavez, who lost their Manhattan home in a fire on Christmas.
The “hugging dog,” who became a viral sensation last winter by offering hugs to strangers in Chelsea, appeared in a somber Instagram video alongside Chavez, 45, on Tuesday, one day after first responders were battling a three-alarm blaze at a building on West 19th Street. The apartment fire in Chelsea forced several people out of their homes on Monday, the FDNY said.
“It was the apartment next door to us. It happened I think around 3:30,” he said in a post shared with the dog’s nearly 200,000 followers. About “10, 15 minutes before that, Loubie and I, we went for a walk and when we got back, we saw that from the corner. It was very sad to see our apartment was getting on fire . . . we lost everything.”
According to the FDNY, the fire at the six-story building was accidental and caused by unattended candles lit on the holiday. There were two minor injuries reported.
“We’ll try to bring a hug and a little smile to you, but if you don’t see us that often you know why,” Chavez said while receiving hugs and licks from his affectionate golden retriever. “Luckily, we’re safe and that is more important.”
A GoFundMe page, set up by PetInsider Tuesday to help Chavez rebuild after the blaze, blew past its goal of $20,000 within hours.
A batch of photos posted on Loubie’s Instagram page from the Skyline Hotel in midtown later that night showed a bedroom in shambles, covered in debris.
“It’s been a very hard day for us, pretty much I feel numb after what happened and we lost everything, but reading your comments and messages, it’s been amazing, your support and love toward Loubie and toward me,” he said in a video while the dog slept.