On Friday, a house in Chandler, Arizona, caught on fire. While owner Andrea Smith was not home at the time, the house was not empty — there were dogs inside.
Smith runs an in-home rescue called Cruz’s Crusaders. The group’s Facebook page says it is “dedicated to helping those in the most need.”
First responders got to the home on Friday to find about 40 dogs inside, according to KPHO-TV. Firefighters worked quickly to put out the fire as well as rescue all the animals in the home.
Despite their best efforts, 13 of the dogs either died at the scene or passed away later after receiving medical care.
Some of the dogs who were saved pic.twitter.com/6CyYxkD0p4
— ᴊᴜꜱᴛɪɴ ʟᴜᴍ | 林俊豪 (@jlumfox10) August 13, 2021
A local vet’s office posted about the tragic event and the role its team played in the rescue.
“Our hospital received a call from Chandler Fire Department letting us know that there was a fire and there were ‘dozens’ of animals in dire need of immediate assistance,” it shared on Saturday. “He asked if we could go to the scene to help.
“I ran to the back and asked our team who was willing to help and if they could go to the scene — we had more than enough team members saying, ‘Let’s do this!’ Within minutes everyone sprung into action getting field supplies, carriers and towels, anything else that would be helpful.
“Our team triaged at the scene and made sure the pets in need got care. They returned with 6 patients and everyone just got to work. Thanks CSR team for helping carry them in, getting collars together and keeping track of the patients, our doctors jumped right in and did what they do best — save lives.
“The technicians went back to the scene and brought back 2 more pets. We were able to save 7 dogs and 1 cat, even more were stable at the scene.”
Thankfully, many of the pets did make it out, but some are still in critical condition and receiving intensive care. The rescue has racked up $10,000 in medical costs — and that’s only the beginning.
Smith and her daughter have also lost all their possessions and have been scrambling to get the dogs into other foster homes since they no longer have a place to keep them.
According to a GoFundMe set up for Smith and the rescue, police are investigating possible arson.
“Several of the dogs are at 1st Pet Chandler in critical care,” the page reads. “These animals are her life!”
“As you can imagine, it has been a crazy and chaotic past few days as Andrea has worked tirelessly to ensure that all of the animals are cleared by a veterinarian and are released to caring foster homes to look after them until their forever families can be found,” a Tuesday update read. “Thank you again everyone for your support!”
Some have questioned the sheer number of dogs present in the home at the time, but according to one Twitter user, Smith had an influx of dogs for an adoption event being held over the weekend.
One Facebook user posted a detailed account of the tragedy, saying that four of Smith’s own dogs — including her service dog — were among the 13 who perished in the fire. She also said the Arizona Humane Society had completed an investigation of its own and found nothing untoward.
“AZ Humane Society has already gone out and completed their investigation and found no wrong doing,” she wrote. “No dogs were confiscated and no charges were filed despite what the media has said.”
Thankfully, the community has rallied around Smith with offers of clothing, dog food and money to help her get through this difficult time.