As flames from a barn fire behind the Puppy Love pet store shot 50 feet into the air, bystanders rushed to rescue 86 puppies caged inside the Danbury, Connecticut, shop, The News-Times reported.
“All the restaurants emptied, people worked together to save these dogs,” said Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, WABC reported. “It was an amazing sight to see.”
The fire broke out about 9 p.m. Thursday in a metal storage barn owned by an ATV shop behind the pet store, WVIT reported. Employees and patrons at nearby restaurants ran to the rescue.
Shatterproof glass hampered their efforts to break open the front doors to the closed shop until the impromptu rescuers hurled a cement statue of a lion through the glass, the station reported.
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Once firefighters arrived shortly afterward, about 150 people worked together as a human chain to move the rolling cages holding the puppies from the shop, WTIC reported.
Passing motorists also pulled over to help out, The News-Times reported.
When the metal fire door at the rear of the shop blew open, revealing “a wall of flames” behind the store, firefighters slammed it shut and held it while the rescue continued, according to the publication.
“Danbury firefighters were incredible because one of them ... was holding the fire door because I guess it was trying to open up and it melted his jacket,” said Sean Silverman, owner of Puppy Love, WTIC reported.
“It was a miracle,” said veterinarian Jeffrey Hubsher, WABC reported. “All the puppies were out on the street, every one of them safe. Amazing. It gives you faith in people. What a place Danbury is.”
The puppies are a little shaken up — “they are babies” — but in good health, Hubsher added, WTIC reported. They’re being housed in a vacant storefront nearby for the time being.
“The pups were cold outside, so we brought them inside,” said restaurateur Mauro Tropeano, whose eatery is expanding into the empty storefront, WVIT reported. “We counted them. All 86. It was a great experience. It was unreal.”
In the end, firefighters prevented the blaze from spreading to Puppy Love, which suffered minor damage, but the metal storage barn and its contents were destroyed, according to the station.
The 5,000-square-foot shop normally holds 80 to 100 puppies, and state regulations do not limit the number as long as they are properly housed, The News-Times reported. There are no reports of complaints against the store.