Heartbreaking: A Massachusetts animal shelter building caught fire late Sunday and was totally engulfed by the time firefighters got there—leading to the deaths of dozens of animals. "We didn't think we'd be able to save any of the animals. That was our first goal—to do that. We were just trying to get to the dogs if we could," the Paxton fire chief tells WMUR. At least four dogs, plus one cat, were rescued, but Sweetpea Friends of Rutland Animals Inc. staffers say another 17 dogs and 39 cats likely died. "The building can be replaced, but these animals can’t be," the shelter manager tells WBZ NewsRadio 1030, per CBS Boston. "They're our babies."
"Sweetpea is currently ON FIRE and we need volunteers to help MOVE animals. This is not a drill. Please help!" the rescue organization posted on Facebook. Many people responded with blankets and other supplies, and a veterinarian arrived on scene as well, the Worcester Telegram reports. "Tonight, sweetpea has lost almost everything," reads a later post from the nonprofit. "We would like to send a HUGE thank you to our community, without whom, we would have lost everything." Staffers say it's possible some cats ran from the blaze, and traps have been placed in the hopes of catching them. A GoFundMe that was originally set up to defray the cost of the shelter's vet bill is now being used to collect funds "to get back on our feet" and has raised more than $14,000 so far. (Read more animal shelters stories.)