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Firefighters Rescue, Revive 20 Dogs from House Fire

Lawrence Township firefighters helped battle the blaze on Route 31 in Hopewell Township Monday night. Special pet oxygen masks recently donated to Lawrence Road Fire Co. played an integral role in reviving several dogs that were overcome by smoke.

Update: "Firefighters Recount Rescue of Dogs from House Fire" (With Video)

Volunteer firefighters from Lawrence Township helped rescue about 20 dogs and newborn puppies from a house fire in neighboring Hopewell Township Monday evening (April 2).

Playing an integral role in saving many of the animals who were overcome by smoke after being trapped in the burning home for as much as a half-hour were three oxygen masks specially designed to fit pets. The masks were donated earlier this year by the Humane Society’s New Jersey chapter to .

Some of the puppies that were rescued were only days old and were so tiny that one firefighter carried several of them out of the burning house all at once cradled inside his helmet.

The front lawn of the house in the 2300 block of Pennington Road (Route 31), near Interstate 95, turned into a makeshift animal hospital as a dozen firefighters and emergency medical service personnel worked to revive many of the rescued pets with oxygen while providing the other dogs that were in better condition with bowls of water and blankets.

Hopewell Township Police Chief George Meyer said the blaze was reported at 7:57 p.m. by 49-year-old Ramona Burnett, who rents one of two apartments in the two-story house.

He said Burnett smelled smoke upon entering the apartment and quickly discovered fire burning in her son’s bedroom on the first floor. Burnett’s son, who is 13, had already fled the house, he said.

He said the resident who lives in the other apartment located in the house was not home at the time.

Heavy smoke was billowing from all sides of the house and flames were visible at the rear when the first police officers and firefighters arrived on the scene, Meyer said.

Responding to battle the blaze were all three Hopewell Valley volunteer fire companies – Pennington Borough, Hopewell Borough, and Union Fire Co. of Titusville – along with the West Trenton Volunteer Fire Co. from Ewing Township and the Lawrence Road and Lawrenceville volunteer fire companies from Lawrence Township.

Led by Pennington Fire Chief James DeForte, firefighters managed to bring the blaze under control in about a half-hour. Meyer said fire damage was sustained to parts of both the first and second floors, while other parts of the house sustained varying degrees of smoke, heat and water damage.

A handful of dogs were rescued from the burning home within the first few minutes of firefighting operations. They were carried to the front lawn, where they were revived by Lawrence Road firefighters using the special pet masks.

Lawrence Road Fire Chief Shaun Dlabik said the three masks – one small, one medium and one large – were donated to the fire company in January by the Humane Society, which also donated masks to Ewing Township’s three volunteer fire companies. The donations were in recognition of the four fire companies’ roles in saving a dog from a house fire on Wiscassett Avenue in Ewing on Sept. 4, 2011.

The “O2 Fur Life” masks, manufactured by Wag’N Pet Safety, are specially-designed to provide life-saving oxygen to a variety of pets, including dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and birds.

Lawrence Road firefighters conducted training to familiarize themselves with the masks after the fire company received them from the Humane Society, but the fire Monday night was the first time they used the masks for real, Dlabik said. A sticker affixed to one of the windows of Lawrence Road’s Rescue 22 fire engine reads “Pet Oxygen Masks On Board.”

After the fire was brought under control and firefighters were able to make a thorough search of the house, the additional dogs and puppies were discovered.

The pets, in varying states of distress, were carried out of the house one after the other by firefighters. With so many dogs being pulled out at one time, the special pet masks were used primarily on the puppies and dogs that had been exposed to the most smoke. Pennington Borough First Aid Squad personnel used traditional oxygen masks on the dogs that were in better shape.

Cages found in the house were carried outside to the front lawn to help corral the 20 or so dogs after they were revived.

Meyer said the residents who were displaced by the fire planned to stay with friends. Neighbors, meanwhile, agreed to shelter some of the dogs, while the rest of the pets were placed in the care of Hopewell Township Animal Control officials.

While no human injuries were reported, at least one dog was found dead within the house, Meyer said.

A total of 1,900 feet of hose was laid to the nearest hydrant in Ewing Township to supply water for the firefighting effort. As a result, the entire southbound side of Pennington Road was closed to traffic for about 90 minutes. Some temporary lane closures took place along the northbound side of the road as well.

Meyer said the cause of the blaze is under investigation by Hopewell Valley Emergency Services Chief Matthew Martin and Hopewell Township Police Officer Gerard Infantino and Detective Daniel McKeown.

As of Monday evening, Meyer said police did not yet have an explanation as to why so many dogs had been in the house.

sue April 03, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Awesome job guys!!!
Ginger Snaps Lewis April 03, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Great story with a happy ending for some lucky pups!
Ben Schmitt April 03, 2012 at 06:10 PM
From the Netherlands; Great job guys. Thats why we are doing it. Grtz. Volunteer firefighter Rotterdam
Valentin Colon April 03, 2012 at 06:14 PM
God Bless these brave and gentle souls. I loved how these pictures showed just how caring and gentle they all were with these pups.
jean lever April 03, 2012 at 06:24 PM
firefighters are awesome..!!!!
Lori Staley April 03, 2012 at 06:25 PM
oh this story makes my heart so happy! with all the negative stories going on, with all the negative comments, this one truly has fed my soul today....well done, brave men and women...well done indeed!
jrs April 03, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Sometimes it seems as though there is only ugly things in this world which makes me very said, but this story was a wonderful deed and outcome for the pups and the firefighters. God will bless all of you and yours. This is a wonderful world jrs
Johny law April 03, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Good job guys..that's how ya' do it. Guys/girls like this make us all proud to be on the job..vollies and paid alike.
Teresa M. Bone April 03, 2012 at 06:32 PM
God Bless our Heroes! Nice, very nice.
Grateful April 03, 2012 at 06:34 PM
God Bless those firefighters! Unfortunately I got a sick feeling in my gut when I saw all those dogs because my first impression was that it is a puppy mill. I would bet on it.
Jamielynn April 03, 2012 at 06:37 PM
I just hope the people were not involved in a puppy mill operation......
Jamielynn April 03, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Job well done Firefighters.. You are true heroes!!!!
amanda long April 03, 2012 at 06:45 PM
they are not any more.....
Virginia Robinson April 03, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Seeing those big, strong hands holding those tiny animals with such care...there is hope for this old world after all!
M. Little April 03, 2012 at 07:06 PM
These firemen rock!!!!! Restores my faith and feeds my soul. Thank you.
RON SANNA April 03, 2012 at 07:07 PM
GREAT JOB. LOVE HEARING ABOUT ANIMAL RESCUES
Lo April 03, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Someone give this gentleman my phone number. I think I'm in love.
Jessica Arnold April 03, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Bless the firefighters for a job well done... Now was the 13 year old son the reason the fire started and why the heck were there SO MANY dogs in this place? Happy they're safe, but sounds like a bad and unhealthy situation. Maybe more good will come of this...
Sarah E. April 03, 2012 at 07:45 PM
What a great group of firefighters! Well done!
Linda April 03, 2012 at 07:51 PM
God bless each and every one of you brave heros! It is because of your unconditional bravery that these sweet animals will live and hopefully find new homes where there is comfort and love! Thank you!
Pam April 03, 2012 at 08:24 PM
I totally agree!!
Frederick April 03, 2012 at 08:38 PM
YOU GUYS ROCK!!!!!!!
Susan Duggan April 03, 2012 at 08:39 PM
What a wonderful job each of you did. The care shown in these photo's is apparent. God bless you all!
Nwyakrose April 03, 2012 at 08:41 PM
AWESOME..!! Excellent work. God bless and keep you all safe always.
Susan Rose April 03, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Firefighters sure are awesome. Grew up in NY and saw the World Trade Center being built. Had NY pride when I saw the brave fireman who saved lives and lost their own lives on 9-11. What a nice story with a happy ending. LUCKY PUPPIES!
Michael Ratcliffe (Editor) April 03, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Update: "Firefighters Recount Rescue of Dogs from House Fire" (With Video) http://patch.com/A-sjGK
Julie April 03, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Firefighter James Brundage saving puppies and hot at the same time. Why can't anyone like that live in my city.
Deb Travers April 04, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Adoptable dogs?
Josh April 04, 2012 at 03:06 AM
For all u that dont have anything good to say and obviously dont know the whole story maybe u should mind ur own business.... this was a single resident home with a family occupying it not apartments being rented out and now the family has been left homeless, without clothes food and the bare essentials that u all most likely take for granted. Furthermore just so u know even though its none of ur business it was NOT a puppy mill!!!! All of the dogs were loved like family not possessions!!! Just to clarify unfortunately 1 dog passed away at the scene and 2 pups had to be euthanized that night so instead of attacking a family u dont know why dont u spend ur energy praying for the family and there 20 remaining furry family members that they find a new home and the courage and strength to move forward after such a tragic and devastating accident! Im sure u were all told by ur parents if u dont have anything good to say then DONT say anything at all....its time to listen to that advice!!! Love u dad glad everyone is ok and a big thanks to all the firefighters who played a part in saving the dogs.
Pat P April 06, 2012 at 05:17 AM
You sound like the "13 yr. old whose bedroom was on fire and fled the scene." Why didn't you take some of the dogs out yourself, if they were such "loved family members"? It's a miracle they survived. No one can take care of that many dogs properly. That's why there are laws that limit how many pets you can have. I have no doubt 20 is way over that amount. I hope the surviving dogs recover from this ordeal and are found good homes where they can get the care they deserve.

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