PENDLETON, N.Y. (WIVB) - Firefighters scrambled to save dozens of animals from a burning shelter Tuesday night, but for many, it was too late.
The Lakeview Animal Sanctuary in Pendleton served as a safe haven for more than a hundred animals in Niagara County, rescuing animals in dangerous circumstances, including puppies, kittens, horses and pigs. In a matter of minutes, more than half of the animals were killed in the smoke and flames.
However, through brave action, many lives were saved, including the sanctuary's top dog. On Wednesday, as a demolition crew took down the charred remains of the sanctuary, volunteers gave thanks they could save about 40 of their stock.
Director Sandy Pfohl said, "We got all the horses out, but we lost all the other animals in the barn, except for a few rabbits."
They also credited the quick actions of the sanctuary's manager for saving Pfohl from the smoke and flames. The sanctuary director is known for putting the welfare of the animals above herself, and when the fire broke out, she rushed in.
Manager Peter Marko said, "[They] said, 'Sandy is in there, Sandy is in there!' And I said, 'Oh no...' and I didn't even think. I just ran in and ran back, and just dragged her out as fast as I could."
Among the animals lost was "Oreo," a baby lamb that was the subject of a naming contest, and Pfohl's house pet, a lamb called "Woolworth."
Board member Jim Costanzo said, "Sandy bottle-fed, hand-raised, and he would go everywhere with Sandy. If she was out of sight, he would start his noise making, his ba-a-ing."
The Wendelville Fire Company knocked down the flames as quickly as possible, but the sanctuary volunteers say the fire moved so fast through the barn there was little they could do.
Board vice president Donna Boskat said, "The barn is a total loss and the insurance... there wasn't much insurance on it, so now we are just asking for help here at the sanctuary because she needs the help."
And Pfohl is still alive to get things going again.
"She would have stayed there with the animals. That is how she feels. She goes, 'Why didn't you just leave me with the animals?'" Marko said.
Board members told News 4 the sanctuary was only insured for about $10,000. If you would like to help with the recovery, board members say you can donate to any Key Bank branch, in care of the Lakeview Animal Sanctuary. You can also learn more information here.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
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