Thursday, August 19, 2010

No Charges Pending After Pets Die In House Fire

The manager of Toronto Animal Services says no charges are pending after a Toronto couples’ house caught fire, causing the deaths of 27 cats and one dog Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s a very distressing event to lose almost thirty cats,” said Eletta Purdy, manager of TAS. “We’re going to approach this situation with a great deal of compassion.”
Purdy said that charges for violating a municipal bylaw are not being pursued at this point. “Once everything settles we want to work with the couple to get them to comply with the bylaw. We’re not sure if the animals were personal pets or if some or all were just being fostered.”
The city bylaw regarding the number of pets in a house states that no more than a total of six cats, dogs, rabbits and ferrets combined (with a maximum of three dogs) can be kept in one residence.
The maximum charge for violation is a $5,000 fine. Purdy said the bylaw is to guarantee the health and welfare of pets and also to make sure animal numbers in neighbourhoods remain manageable for residents.
The homeowner called in the blaze around 1:30 p.m., Wednesday when he noticed flames pouring out from between the stacked washer and dryer at the back of the Burnfield Ave. home, near Ossington Ave. and Dupont St., said Toronto Fire Capt. Mike Strapko.
“He grabbed a fire extinguisher and tried to put it out, but the smoke kept coming,” Strapko said. He said the investigation into the cause has ended and that it’s possible lint, which is flammable, could have sparked the fire.
“The owner said he cleaned the lint trap, but there could have been some inside. It could also have been an electrical cause, but it was because of the dryer.”
By the time firefighters arrived, the two-alarm fire had engulfed the entire kitchen and eventually most of the main floor and second floor were badly damaged. The fire was knocked down quickly, but most of the family’s 32 pets (31 cats and one dog) had already died from smoke inhalation. One cat was badly burned and had to be put down at the scene.
Four cats, including two kittens, are still alive, but one has critical injuries.
“In my 25 years I’ve never seen this large a loss of lives of pets. It’s very sad,” Strapko said. “These people were pet lovers . . . They were an important part of their family.”
No one else was hurt in the fire, which officials estimated caused about $400,000 damage.

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