Oil truck driver Kevin Labrie saves dog from kennel fire on Melinda Lane in Easthampton

Last modified: Wednesday, March 12, 2014

EASTHAMPTON — The driver of an oil truck who was making a delivery on Melinda Lane Monday afternoon spotted flames in a backyard dog kennel and saved a 13-year-old beagle named Pammy.

“I’m just so thankful he stopped,” said George Wright, the owner of the home and property at 21 Melinda Lane.

Unfortunately, he said, Pammy bit the finger of Kevin Labrie when he attempted to get her out of the burning kennel. Labrie, who lives in Southampton and is a driver for Pioneer Valley Oil of Westfield, later went to the hospital to get stitches, according to the company’s office manager, Lisa Laquerre.

“It doesn’t surprise me a bit that he would do that,” she said of Labrie’s rescuing Pammy.

Fire Capt. Kevin Benson said Labrie was treated by emergency medical technicians for the bite and left soon after firefighters arrived.

Pammy’s fur was a bit singed and she was “a little shook up,” Wright said, but otherwise she was not hurt.

Benson said a hot lightbulb inside the kennel started the fire which was reported at 2:41 p.m. The freestanding kennel, which was destroyed, sits within a few feet of a shed on Wright’s property.

Wright said he was in his basement when his neighbor pounded on his door and alerted him to the fire. By that time, Labrie had already run through the yard, opened the kennel and gotten Pammy out.

“My neighbor started spraying it with a garden hose and I was throwing snow on it,” Wright said. “The firefighters got here really quick.”

Benson said firefighters put out the fire in under 10 minutes and then took apart the layers of wood, particle board and shingles to make sure there were no hot spots. He said that while lights are often used to warm chicken coops and similar outdoor structures for animals, it is important to make sure they are not near any combustible material.

Wright built the kennel himself years ago using wood, particle board, shingles and chicken wire. He said it had room for the four beagles he used to own, but they have since died and only Pammy lives there now. He said he kept a 40-watt lightbulb in the kennel to keep her warm at night and on cold days like Monday.

He said Pammy comes in the house often, but prefers the outdoors. “She wants to sleep outside,” he said. “She doesn’t really like the house, but I guess she’ll have to get used to it now.”

Easthampton Animal Control Officer Robert Jackman, who was called to the house because of the dog bite, said the dog was licensed and up to date on her rabies vaccination. Still, according to Department of Public Health regulations, Wright will have to keep the dog quarantined in his house for 10 days. The only exceptions are on-leash walks on his property and a leashed trip to the veterinarian for a check-up, to confirm she was not injured in the fire.

Jackman said that while he did not see the dog, he believes she bit Labrie because she was agitated due to the fire and did not know him. “It was out of fear,” he said.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.


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