A dog that alerted residents when their apartment building was on fire has been found dead clutching her owner's purse.
Rocky Granata found Stella under a blanket in the rubble of the Woodbridge apartment that he shared with the mixed breed's owner Ann Marie Kelt.
The dog, who had been battling cancer and had a heart condition, awakened Kelt when the apartment building caught fire on Friday. Granata called for the dog to follow as they fled.
Neighbors thought the dog had run off.
"I knew in my heart she was up there," Granata told the Home News Tribune. "She didn't suffer. She was at peace." Stella looked like she was resting with Kelt's pocketbook under her blanket, he said.
Kelt's daughter, Megan Holden of Sayreville, told the newspaper the veterinarian said with the dog's heart condition, she probably died after taking a few breaths in the smoke-filled apartment.
"I pray she did go quickly," Holden said.
The St. Georges Veterinary Hospital gave the family a keepsake paw print and arranged for Stella's cremation.