Firefighters responding to a call in Fresno,California made a heartbreaking discovery as they attempted to rescue the occupants of a house fire.
When they secured entry into the Grand Avenue home of a 70 year old woman, they discovered almost 40 dogs also trapped in the blazing inferno. Working quickly, the Firefighters contacted the local SPCA to join them at the scene of the rescue operation.
Speaking with local news media, Bob Van Tassel of the Fresno Fire Department said “The people who were inside, they had all said they were doing fine, initially. The fire initiated in the back bedroom. We don’t have a cause yet we’re still waiting for investigators to come up with a cause.”
Family members of the elderly occupant of the house say she had only lived there for about two years, since the passing of her husband. At the time that she moved in, she only had four pet dogs., and the family had no idea that she had started to acquire more.
Aubrey Ramirez, the elderly woman’s granddaughter says “I would say out of hand for her. A lot of people are going to look at her as a hoarder of animals but, for her, it was just a way of having comfort and being at peace with the one you love passing away.”
Ramirez also reported that most of the dogs were not fixed and may have multiplied with each other. She believes there were about 40 dogs in all, and not all of them survived the fire.
“I would say most likely 10 passed away in the house and a couple of puppies, one of the dogs was giving birth while the fire was going on. We have like two to three of the puppies inside now. A couple died and she’s still having them as we speak inside,” Ramirez explained.
According to the SPCA, the dogs that had been rescues appeared healthy, aside from the injuries sustained during the fire. Firefighters said they had a breathing mask to help some of the dogs who suffered smoke inhalation.
Van Tassel said “It’s a mask, more narrow, it’s the same kind of a face mask you’d put on a person but it’s kind of narrower and I believe they were using one on one of the dogs they brought earlier in the incident.”
While the building is still standing today, and has little outward signs of the catastrophic blaze, it is reported that the interior has been completely gutted and that the house is unsalvageable.
The SPCA has taken all but two of the surviving dogs into custody, and will begin finding permanent homes for them soon.
If you suspect that dogs are being neglected or harmed, here are some things to keep an eye out for, according to the Humane Society of America:
– Hoarding: Hoarding behavior often victimizes animals. Sufferers of a hoarding disorder may impose severe neglect on animals by housing far more than they are able to adequately take care of.
– Lack of veterinary care: Untreated wounds are a red flag that demand immediate attention; emaciation, scabs and hair loss can also be a sign of untreated diseases.
Inadequate shelter, especially in extreme heat or cold temperatures, can be deadly.
– Chained dogs who are tethered continuously suffer tremendously, both from social isolation and exposure to predators and the elements.
– Abandonment: A startling number of animals die every year when people move out of their residences and simply leave the animals behind. Sometimes, an abandoned dog’s barking or cat’s howling can alert the neighbors, but it’s wise to keep an eye on a recently vacated home, especially if the former residents moved suddenly.
– Direct Violence: It can be very upsetting to see someone beating or physically attacking an animal, but it’s important not to turn away. It’s crucial to involve law enforcement quickly, as violence toward animals is often part of a larger pattern of violence that can include people as well.
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