Tragic Shelter Fire Kills 150 Pets

 |  Dec 18th 2008  |   13 Contributions


The Durham Region Humane Society Shelter in Oshawa, Ontario was destroyed by a raging fire. Only 8 dogs and 2 cats were able to be rescued, tragically 150 animals were killed.

What a heartbreaking story, many of the animals were waiting to be picked up to go to their new homes.

"We could hear the dogs barking when we got there," said Platoon Chief Neil Crouter of Oshawa Fire Services. "There were leashes inside the door so the firefighters grabbed them, then grabbed the dogs and handed them to police at the door."

Crouter said the dogs were further away from the fire, which was raging in the front part of the building, and that firefighters had barely enough time to grab a couple of cats in cages, he said.

The other cats were "already gone," overcome by smoke long before the flames reached them, he said.

"At least they were asleep and didn't feel anything."

Police officers comforted the rescued animals and kept them warm in their cruisers while firefighters battled the blaze, which broke out around 2:15 a.m.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated. Damage to the 2,400-square-foot facility on Waterloo St. is estimated at $250,000.

Two sobbing teenagers placed red and white carnations in front of the building's charred remains as shelter employees and volunteers gathered to grieve the lost creatures.

A grief counselor was being brought in to help the shelter workers and volunteers deal with the devastating loss. The dogs that were rescued were taken to the Farewell Street Shelter, they got big hugs from all the animal workers.

One of the saved dogs, Bailey, is getting a second chance at life. He was just rescued a few nights prior when found tied to a fence in freezing weather, now he's one of just eight dogs that survived the fire.

Meanwhile, the Durham organization, which relies solely on donations, will temporarily have to work out of the Oshawa Animal Services' Farewell St. office.

The humane society has been trying for years to find a decent shelter to replace the Waterloo St. building they occupied for 20 years.

"It was too small and crowded and not the best place for us," said shelter manager Ruby Richards. "We're desperate for land so we can build our own but nobody will sell it to us."

Monetary donations can be made via their website, humanedurham.com, or by contacting the Ontario SPCA at 1-888-668-7722, ext. 323.

* Photo of Rocco, one of the rescued dogs, courtesy Colin McConnell/Toronto Star.

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