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One of the fire survivors being treated. Photo: MyFoxBoston

Dozens of animals killed in Massachusetts animal shelter fire

Dozens of dogs and cats at a “no-kill” animal shelter in central Massachusetts died in a fire that blazed through the building late Sunday night.

CBS Boston reported that flames broke out at Sweetpea Friends of Rutland Animals Inc. in Paxton around 11 p.m. According to reports, the fire killed between 40 and 50 animals.

Almost immediately after the fire broke out, shelter workers took to social media to ask volunteers for help with blankets, towels and leashes. “Sweetpea is currently ON FIRE and we need volunteers to help MOVE animals,” workers wrote on Facebook. “This is not a drill. Please help!”

The workers also begged for the help of veterinarians in the area.

By the time firefighters arrived on the scene, they weren’t sure they could rescue any of the animals. “That was our first goal–to do that,” Paxton Fire Chief Jay Conte told ABC affiliate WCVB. “We were just trying to get to the dogs if we could.”

Just before midnight, they had pulled as many animals as they could from the fire and had them treated for smoke inhalation, The Washington Post reported. Of the animals in the shelter, only four dogs and one cat were saved, according to the Sweetpea’s Facebook page.

“Brooklyn Skye, Jade and Divinci are at a vet in stable condition,” the shelter workers wrote. “Stella is in critical condition and rushed to tufts. Kitten the cat is stable.”

“We were very fortunate to save just those,” Conte said. “The site was fully involved when we got here, so we didn’t think we were going to save any of the animals.”

Volunteers showed up on the scene with supplies like the shelter had asked. Some were gathered by the building, as the firefighters battled the flames, wrapping the rescued dogs up in blankets to keep them warm in tears.

One veterinarian showed up to help treat the animals that were saved, according to Telegram & Gazette.

“The building can be replaced, but these animals can’t be,” kennel manager Melanie Kenadek told WBZ NewsRadio 1030. “They’re shelter pets, but they’re our family. All my volunteers feels the same way. It’s just, they’re our babies.”

Shelter workers posted a message on Facebook after the fire saying that they had “lost almost everything.” There is no word yet on what may have caused the fire.

On Monday, they posted a wish list asking volunteers for various things. You can find it here.

Sweetpea Friends of Rutland Animals is a nonprofit, no-kill animal welfare organization. They describe themselves as a group “dedicated to the rescue, care and placement of stray, abandoned and surrendered companion animals in central Massachusetts and beyond.”

As a person who has owned two rescued dogs, news of this incident broke my heart. I know that organizations like Sweetpea work really hard to rescue and care for their animals, and I’m sure some of the dogs at the shelter had been there for years.

Not only did the shelter’s workers lose their facility and supplies, but they lost their loved ones. My heart goes out to them. If you are interested in helping in any way, visit their Facebook page.

About Meredith Rodefer

Meredith Rodefer
Meredith Rodefer is a freelance writer, who focuses on anything from lifestyle blogging to hard news, and dancer. Beyond Youth Independent, she has written for sites such as, and Contact Meredith: