A 15-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of arson after a fire killed more than 60 dogs at an animal shelter in Manchester, England.
According to a report in the Guardian, about 150 dogs were rescued by firefighters called onto the scene Thursday evening. While the reasons behind the suspected arson remain unclear, the public’s response to the tragedy has emerged as a hopeful counternarrative to the horrific events.
Two individuals reportedly rescued 20 dogs from the flames, the Mirror reports. Jason Dyer, 41, and his nephew Dean Rostock, 25, kicked open kennel doors, put leashes on the dogs and lead them out of harm’s way. They tied the animals to a nearby fence before heading back into the building to save more.
“We initially ran into the bit that was on fire, but we couldn't get those dogs out. We went to the other kennels and began kicking out the doors. We just wanted to get them out,” Dyer told the Mirror. "This place is part of our childhoods. We both have dogs and love dogs -- of course we are going to run in there. We just wanted to make sure as many as possible would be OK."
Several hours after the fire, more than £250,000 (roughly $406,000) had been donated to the Manchester Dogs' Home for repairs, the Telegraph reports. As of Friday morning, more than £759,000 (roughly $1.2 million) has been raised, according to the JustGiving campaign set up for the cause.
At the scene of the fire, hundreds of residents arrived with blankets, cages and dog food. "The Manchester Dogs' home was founded in 1893 and houses more than 7,000 dogs each year," according to the BBC. The nonprofit runs entirely on donations from the general public.
Officials said the fire damaged one-third of the kennels and is believed to have started in the building’s medical department. One witness said the fire resembled a “huge fireball.” A joint investigation is underway between the Greater Manchester Police and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.
The dogs that were rescued from the fire have been transported to the nearby Cheshire Dogs Home.
"I cannot describe what we have seen tonight,” Anna Stansfield, manager of the Cheshire Dogs Home told the BBC. “It's soul-destroying,”