GORDON COUNTY, Ga. - Flames swept through the Gordon County Animal Shelter Wednesday night while dozens of animals were inside. The building was destroyed, but most of the animals survived. Investigators are still trying to determine how it started.
The flames were fierce as they tore through the shelter. Trapped in their kennels, 23 dogs were surrounded by flames and smoke.
Firefighters were focused on getting the animals out. They tried to go in, but were stopped by the flames.
“They said the fire was too hot, too intense, they were on the floor trying to crawl in there and couldn't,” said Director Sue Henson.
That is when Henson, firefighters and volunteers started tearing down the gates to the kennels with their bare hands.
“Everybody just started grabbing poles and yanking them down and got them far enough for the animals to get out,” said Henson.
Two cats died in the fire.
“They were in the main office area, which was fully engulfed when we got here so nobody could have gotten in to get them,” said Henson.
All of the dogs made it out. Two frightened pups ran off and are still missing. Only one was injured.
“It was the last dog pulled out, he had singed hair and pads were scorched, and he has some smoke inhalation, but he's eating, happy and hopefully we can get him placed,” said Henson.
All of the other dogs, with the exception of two of them, have been taken in by rescue groups. One was even adopted by the paramedic who helped save him.
Gordon County Commissioner Becky Hood showed up at the fire to see if she could help and was overwhelmed by all the others who wanted to do the same.
“I saw people in action, everybody come together, it makes me feel so good knowing our community cares about people as well as animals,” said Hood.
County officials said anyone who still wants to help can donate through the county's website, gordoncounty.org. County leaders said every dime will go directly to the new shelter.
There were already plans in the works to use SPLOST money to build a new shelter. Now, county leaders said that project will happen sooner rather than later.