This Thing Called Courage

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cape Cod Animal Hospital/Shelter Burns Down


By David Abel, Globe Staff
Ken Lacasse heard the thunder of a massive explosion about 100 feet from his house on Cape Cod, and without thinking, he ran toward the flames.
Dutch the puggle is missing He knew dogs and cats were likely trapped inside Cape Cod Animal Hospital, which burst into flames at about 8 p.m. Monday.
“Things kept blowing up,” said Lacasse, 51, who lives next door to the animal hospital in West Barnstable. “We didn’t have a lot of time. We had to move quick.”
Lacasse found Scott Munson, the hospital’s head veterinarian, at the front door. He said Munson tried to enter through the front but came back because it was too dangerous.
He said they decided to go around back and that he and the doctor broke in by pulling off several pickets of the fence and using a cinder block to break down the back door.
Inside the smoke was thick. With the help of a local police officer who had just arrived on the scene, they opened the gates in the hospital’s kennel and shooed the dogs outside.
Click play below to hear the 911 call.
“It was pretty freaky; we could hear cracks and explosions,” said Lacasse, a neighbor of the animal hospital for 23 years. “But the dogs were really quiet, really good. They didn’t know what to do, and some of them wanted to run toward the fire. We grabbed the small ones and flushed the bigger dogs out.”
Chief John Farrington of the Centerville-Osterville-Marston Mills Fire District lauded the men for their bravery.
“I give them a lot of credit,” he said. “They did the best they could. They did an excellent job getting the animals out."
Farrington said investigators have yet to determine the cause of the fire or where it started. He declined to estimate the financial damage.
In the end, three cats and a dog died, he said. The cats lived in the hospital and the dog, Zoe, a Yorkshire Terrier, was a patient.
The men saved at least 12 dogs, some of whom escaped and were caught later. The dogs were brought to the Bayview Kennels in West Barnstable, where about half of them remained yesterday.
“They settled down quite well,” said Barbara Cappellina, owner of the Bayview Kennels. “Thankfully, it’s off-season, and we had space for them.”
She said one of the dogs, a mutt, had some breathing problems, as a result of all the smoke.
Another dog, a puggle named Dutch, pictured above, remained missing yesterday. The pug-beagle mix was believed to be in the area around the Marstons Mills Airport.
“He is lost in the woods, and I'm sure scared to death,” wrote Suzanne Elio, the sister of the dog’s owner, in an e-mail.
Meanwhile, Lacasse said he didn’t consider himself a hero.“We’re all lucky, that’s for sure,” he said. “But the dogs that survived are really lucky.”

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