A fire that swept through the no-kill Sweetpea Friends of Rutland (FOR) Animals Inc. shelter in Paxton, Mass., late last night tragically took the lives of as many as 50 dogs and cats, but firefighters and volunteers were fortunately able to save five of the pets.
The structure was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. “We didn’t think we’d be able to save any of the animals,” Paxton Fire Chief Jay Conte told WCVB. “That was our first goal – to do that. We were just trying to get to the dogs if we could.”
Four dogs (in the photo above) and one cat who were rescued survived.
Firefighters from Holden, Leicester, Spencer, Rutland and Oakham assisted the Paxton Fire Department in putting out the blaze. The fire appears to be accidental, but is being investigated by the state’s fire marshal’s office, WCVB reports.
Paramedics and a veterinarian who’s the wife of a firefighter treated the rescued pets for smoke inhalation.
Devastated volunteers “sobbed as they tried to warm the dogs rescued from the burning building, holding them wrapped in blankets, and shared the names of the dogs that were lost,” the Telegram & Gazette reports.
— Rick Cinclair (@RickCinclair) November 23, 2015
“Tonight, Sweetpea has lost almost everything,” the organization wrote on its Facebook page late last night. “We would like to send a HUGE thank you to our community, without whom, we would have lost everything.”
Sweetpea takes in pets who are on “death row” at other shelters, or whose owners can’t keep them but don’t want to surrender them to a kill shelter.
A vigil will be held at the shelter tonight at 7 p.m. to honor the memory of the pets who died in the fire.
How to Help Sweetpea FOR Animals Recover from the Fire
“This fire will clean out our whole year’s operating budget,” Sweetpea FOR Animals writes on its website. “We will struggle to rebuild and to pay off the mortgage. This is really serious for us – we had just taken a mortgage on the rescue shelter and one of the two shelter buildings burned to the ground.”
To help Sweetpea recover and rebuild, here’s what you can do:
- Make a donation via the Help Us Keep Saving Our Animals GoFundMe.com page. As of this morning, over $35,700 of its $100,000 goal has been reached. (When a fire started by an 15-year-old arsonist destroyed the Manchester Dog’s Home in the U.K. last year, over $1 million was raised in just a day. Let’s do this.)
- Make a tax-deductible donation by PayPal or send a check payable to Sweepea FOR Animals to Sweetpea FOR Animals, 1090 Pleasant St. (Route 122), Paxton MA, 01612.
- Check the Sweetpea Friends of Rutland Animals Facebook page for up-to-date lists of supplies needed.
Photos via Twitter; Facebook