Shelter for stray dogs burns down in Worthington

Last modified: Thursday, May 08, 2014

WORTHINGTON — A barn at 69 Thayer Hill Road that was used as a shelter for stray dogs was destroyed by a fire that broke out about 4 p.m. Wednesday.

“It was fully involved when we got there,” Worthington Fire Chief Richard Granger said. “It was a pretty large barn with a loft, but we had it knocked down within about a half an hour.”

The owner of the barn, Elizabeth Mollison, is the animal control officer for Worthington and Chesterfield and had converted her cattle and horse barn into a kennel for stray dogs. Mollison said six dogs were in the barn when the fire broke out.

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“Thank God none of the dogs were hurt and they all got out safely,? Mollison said. “I can replace the barn but I don’t know what I would do if they didn’t get out.”

Mollison was not home when the fire started, but a friend who was at her home about 60 feet from the barn said he heard a loud pop just before the fire occurred. Her friend was able to get all of the dogs out of the barn unharmed.

Shortly after 4 p.m., Mollison was returning home when she was stopped at a police barricade at the end of her road.

“I told them I lived on that road and they let me through. My heart stopped when I saw that it was actually my barn and all I could think about was the dogs,” Mollison said.

According to Mollison, neither Chesterfield nor Worthington has a facility where stray dogs can be housed, so for the last eight years she has been keeping them in her barn.

“It was a good-sized barn. I took out all of the stalls and put in kennels. Each dog had its own separate kennel and large yard to play in,” Mollison said.

Granger said fire departments from Worthington, Chesterfield, Cummington, Peru and Windsor responded to the blaze. He said firefighters remained on the scene until about 7 p.m., making sure the blaze was completely out.

“We also had our station covered by Huntington, and Goshen, Plainfield and Savoy were on standby,” Granger said.

Mollison said, “People came up to me later to show me pictures that they had taken, and said the smoke could be seen from all over town.”

Based on the description given by her friend, Mollison said she believes the cause may have been electrical.

Granger, however, said the cause is undetermined.

“I don’t know what caused the fire, I couldn’t even speculate,” Granger said. “I don’t think we will ever know because there was just too much damage.”

Mollison, who receives a stipend for her work as animal control officer but does not have full-time employment, said she hopes to replace the barn but is not certain how long that will take. “I have no idea what it is worth, but I will be calling my insurance company first thing in the morning,” she said.

In the meantime, she is looking for alternative shelter for the stray dogs.

“Right now they are all fine and running around in my cellar,” Mollison said. “I’m hopeful that I can come up with an alternative.”


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