A Paxton animal shelter fire has killed dozens of cats and dogs, as it wreaked havoc throughout the facility during the weekend.
Late Sunday night, at around 10:45 p.m., flames engulfed the Sweetpea Friends of Rutland Animals shelter, located in Paxton, central Massachusetts, around 50 miles from Boston.
Workers immediately alerted authorities, also calling for veterinarians to come to the facility and assist in providing medical aid to the pets.
Volunteers were also summoned, having been asked to bring leashes, blankets and towels, so as to help take the surviving animals elsewhere.
First responders from Paxton Fire Department shortly arrived at the scene, around 100 yards off Pleasant Street, in the vicinity of Route 122.
They desperately struggled to contain the fire, and save the defenseless pets, by entering the one-story shelter from the back door. The combustion was so severe that eventually the roof caved in, making the facility extremely perilous for the firefighters.
As a result, a second alarm was issued, in order to bring additional units from Holden, Oakham, Rutland, Spencer and Leicester, and make it easier to combat the flames.
Unfortunately however, over a dozen canines have perished, as well three times as many felines, some of them having been bred and raised at the no-kill kennel for several years.
In total, 17 dogs and 39 cats had already died when firefighters came inside the shelter, some of them being found burned beyond recognition.
Four large dogs managed to escape alive, while another smaller white canine that had sustained severe burns passed away while being carried to a veterinary center.
Among the survivors are DaVinci (a pit bull terrier), Brooklyn Skye (a Labrador retriever mix), and Jade (a hound and pit bull terrier mix). These dogs are all in stable condition, whereas another canine called Stella is listed as critical, and a feline called Kitten is stable.
It is expected that once the animals complete medical treatment and veterinarians confirm that their health has been fully restored, they will be placed for adoption.
According to Paxton Fire Chief Jay Conte, if shelter workers had been present in the building they wouldn’t have been able to pull through the devastating blaze.
The only reason why some animals made it out of the flames alive was because they had been close to the ground, trapped in their kennels, and farther from the noxious fumes spread by the fire.
Moreover, if the rescue operation had been delayed even by half an hour, all the animals would’ve succumbed to the flames.
Even this way, when some creatures were eventually saved, the operation has been extremely gut-wrenching, especially given that most of the firefighters are pet owners, so they were particularly moved by this devastating incident.
The fatal fire appears even more harrowing when considering that the animals had been scheduled to take photos with Santa, following Thanksgiving.
Apparently, the blaze began after a “heat or electrical source” malfunctioned inside the facility’s office. The cause therefore seems to be accidental, and is currently being investigated by the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s office.
First estimates indicate the structural damage amounts to approximately $150,000. Moreover, the fire destroyed kennels and supplies whose total value corresponded to around $75,000 to $80,000.
However, Melanie Kenadek, the shelter’s manager, has declared that the focus isn’t on the building, which can easily be repaired, but on the animals who had been just like babies to the kennel workers.
Those wishing to assist the Sweetpea Friends of Rutland Animals center can bring cat and dog food, play pens, kitchen utensils, blankets, toys and other supplies.
Alternatively, they can make a contribution on the kennel’s GoFundMe page, to help with veterinary bills and other costs required so that the nonprofit center can resume its activity.
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