Keith Walker is being hailed a hero after rescuing several cats and dogs from a fire at their Atlanta animal shelter.
On December 18, a fire broke out in the W-Underdogs animal shelter's kitchen. Walker, 53, was arriving to pick up his own pit bull Bravo — whom the shelter's founder Gracie Hamlin allows to stay every night inside the shelter — and took quick action to make sure the animals were removed safely.
Walker said in an interview with CNN that although he was "nervous" to enter the burning building, he knew what he had to do.
"I was nervous as hell, I'm not going to lie. I was really scared to go in there with all that smoke. But God put me there to save those animals," he said. "If you love a dog, you can love anyone in the world. My dog is my best friend, and I wouldn't be here without him, so I knew I had to save all those other dogs."
Walker rescued every animal in the shelter, which included 10 cats and six dogs.
Hamlin told CNN that Walker acted as her "guardian angel."
Video: Beloved veteran retires after decades feeding Atlanta’s homeless
She said that the fire department "called animal control, but Keith was already in the building pulling out the cats and dogs until they were all safe," she said. "I can't thank him enough for saving my animals. I'm still in disbelief, because I've been around a fire and I know how fast they flare up. He is my hero."
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
W-Underdogs said in a Facebook post the day after the rescue that the fire department deemed the blaze an electrical fire. While the fire was successfully extinguished before the entire building burned, it was left uninhabitable.
Coincidentally, the shelter had been in the middle of the process of moving its headquarters, and was able to move the animals into its new facility.
"They are all happy, warm, safe, and comfortable in their new temporary home," W-Underdogs said in the Facebook post.
A GoFundMe campaign has since been set up for Walker in honor of his heroic actions. The campaign has surpassed its original goal and has raised more than $27,000 as of Monday. The campaign's organizers said in an update on Sunday that they were working on getting Walker access to the funds. A second GoFundMe campaign was created to raise money for W-Underdogs.