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Instagram-famous 'hugging dog' and owner homeless after Christmas fire

A fire broke out at the New York City apartment where Cesar Fernandez and his famous golden retriever live, leaving the pair without a home on Christmas Day.
'Hugging Dog' in New York without a home after Christmas Day fire
Louboutina, seen here with her owner Cesar Fernandez, is known for giving hugs to people on the streets of New York City.Courtesy of Cesar Fernandez
/ Source: TODAY

Louboutina the hugging dog is known for spreading cheer, but now it's her turn to ask for help.

Her owner Cesar Fernandez recently revealed that there was a fire at their New York City apartment on Christmas Day.

"We lost everything today but we are safe," Fernandez wrote on Instagram. "We will always try to bring a smile to our page, but this time we need your hugs and prayers."

The fire, in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, happened on the top floor of the apartment building on Monday afternoon. Two people had minor injuries, NBC New York reported.

Fernandez told TODAY that he's "devastated" and currently looking for a new apartment. In the meantime, he's staying at a hotel. Firefighters helped him get his passport and a coat from the apartment, but otherwise "everything is gone," he said.

"I've been crying for two days," Fernandez said. "But I know I'm going to be OK, and Loubie's going to be OK."

He shared photos of the flames bursting from their apartment windows, and the devastation inside a burned bedroom. Fernandez also thanked friends and fans who donated more than $60,000 to an online fund set up to help them.

"I can't read more than three of the comments without crying," he said. "It's been amazing. It's incredible to realize how much people are with us."

Fernandez and Louboutina, a golden retriever, were out for a walk when the fire happened and weren't injured, he said.

The cause of the fire was "accidental, unattended candles," according to the New York City Fire Department.

Last year, Louboutina became a social media star after Fernandez started sharing photos online of her hugging people on the streets of New York City. He told TODAY at the time that the hugs happen naturally, and that Louboutina just "loves people."

"When she was little, I would hug her like a person," he said. "I would kneel on the floor and hug her and she would put her paws on my shoulders. So maybe she picked that up."