Dogs rescued from fire

WELLSVILLE – A family of dogs owes their survival to Wellsville Police after being rescued unconscious from a burning house on Thursday afternoon.

Village Lt. Ed Wilson and Officer Marsha Eisenhart responded to 1806 Chester Ave., shortly before 2:30 p.m., after neighbors had called and reported seeing smoke coming from the house. After attempting to make contact with the owners, who weren’t home, they were told of the dogs inside. Wilson said they forced the front door open and, finding no animals, broke open the back door. It was there in the kitchen that they saw the dogs unconscious.

Wilson said he had to cover his face with a towel as a shield from the smoke when he and Eisenhart, with a neighbor’s help, pulled the crates and cages out the back door.

The officers said that, upon seeing the dogs in their crates and cages, they feared the worst. “They just looked like they were dead, piled on top of each other,” said Eisenhart.

Wilson was even more certain of the assessment at first. “They were gone. It was over, the count was down,” he said.

Neighbors and the officers used a garden hose to cool the animals and revive them. Some were not so quick to revive, however, and EMTs from a Tri-County ambulance that was in the area began to administer oxygen to them. One of the puppies was found to have minor burns to its hind legs, but none of the others appeared to be injured.

A pair of fire engines from the Wellsville department arrived shortly thereafter, assisted by Lifeteam EMS, and soon had the fire under control. Though no cause has been determined, fire Chief Bill Smith said the blaze started in the basement, spreading thick smoke throughout the three-story structure.

A call went out for towels, piles of which soon appeared from the homes of concerned neighbors. One of them, Rose Venci, said everyone pitched in, trying to revive the animals. She credits Wilson’s bravery with entering the burning house to rescue the dogs. “He took a real chance, because exposing a fire to oxygen could have caused a serious situation,” she said.

“We just hosed them down, wiped them down,” said Venci’s friend, Alyson Colledge, who was visiting from a few streets over.