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TLC Rescue Founder Saves 21 Foster Dogs From Fire

As flames destroyed the home where she lives and fosters, Tammy Carper went room to room and even under the house to get every dog out.

Jeff Goldberg  |  Jan 14th 2015


They’re okay. They’re all okay.

That is about the only good news for Tammy Carper and her foster dogs right now — all 21 of them.

Carper, from Bean Station, Tenn., is a driver for Movin’ on UP Volunteer Animal Rescue Transports. But her other great pup passion is fostering. Last Thursday, she had 21 dogs under her care at the TLC Rescue.

“TLC” is Carper’s initials, and the rescue location is actually her home. And those who know Carper understand that she always puts the dogs ahead of herself.

That was never more true than last Thursday.

In a flash, her double-wide mobile home was gone. Apparently sparked by a wood stove inside, a swift-moving fire gutted the residence and the rescue. But Carper, who was home at the time, managed to get all 21 of her dogs to safety, even as all of her worldly possessions went up in smoke.

Carper posted this photo of the fast-moving fire on her Facebook page.

Carper posted this photo of the fast-moving fire on her Facebook page.

“She went into the living room while it was already totally in flames and started grabbing dogs and getting them out the back door,” said Pamela Hughett McKee, a close friend of Carper’s and a fellow foster provider in nearby Morristown. “She made a sweep through the house and grabbed the small [dogs] that were indoor dogs.”

One of the dogs hid under the mobile home as the fire raged above. Carper was able to bust through sheeting that surrounded the dwelling to make a hole large enough for the dog to escape unharmed.

The remains of the home's interior after the fire (Photo courtesy of Pamela Hughett McKee)

The remains of the home’s interior after the fire (Photo courtesy of Pamela Hughett McKee)

Several of Carper’s larger dogs were in an enclosed outdoor area away from the structure and were not in immediate danger during the blaze. But while all lives were spared, material goods were wiped out.

Some of Carper's foster dogs. (Photo courtesy of Pamela Hughett McKee)

Some of Carper’s foster dogs. (Photo courtesy of Pamela Hughett McKee)

“She’s lost all her supplies. From food, to crates, bedding, she’s lost all of that,” McKee said. “Medicine, her own clothes … it’s all gone.”

Within hours, news of the fire reached other rescuers in the area, and they immediately began working to find temporary shelters and homes for the dogs.

“There’s a very special bond between us rescuers,” McKee said. “We’re very defensive of our babies, the homeless and abandoned. We all have the same heart, you might say. When someone is in need, we’re often always willing to step up and put our own needs aside to help. Whatever it takes to get the job done.”

Tammy Carper and one of her rescues, Rue. (Photo courtesy of Pamela Hughett McKee)

Tammy Carper and one of her rescues, Rue. (Photo courtesy of Pamela Hughett McKee)

Toward that end, a Gofundme campaign has been started on Carper’s behalf, with a goal of $20,000. Hope Haven for Animals, a rescue in nearby Rogerville, Tenn., for which Carper serves on the board, is also accepting donations of material goods for both Carper and the dogs. It can be reached at HopeHavenforAnimals@yahoo.com or 423-923-3908.

“I’d like to get back on my feet at my property, you know living, and to get me a reliable van to continue my rescue,” Carper told WATE.com. “I’m not going to stop. That’s what I live for, I love my dogs and they need me.”

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About the author: Jeff Goldberg is a freelance writer in Quincy, Mass. A former editor for MLB.com and sportswriter for the Hartford Courant who covered the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team (Huskies!) and the Boston Red Sox, Jeff has authored two books on the UConn women: Bird at the Buzzer (2011) and Unrivaled (2015). He lives with his wife, Susan, and their rescue pup, Rocky, an Italian Greyhuahua/Jack Russell mix from a foster home in Tennessee, hence the name Rocky (as in Rocky Top).