Boy bailed over dogs home blaze

Published: Saturday 13th September 2014 by The News Editor

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A 15-year-old boy arrested on suspicion of starting the Manchester Dogs Home blaze which killed at least 50 animals has been released on bail.

The teenager was held by detectives in the wake of the suspected arson attack, which claimed the lives of dozens of dogs and injured several others.

More than £120,000 has been raised in a swift fundraising campaign set up within hours of the fire, which took hold some time before 7.20pm on Thursday, at the site on Moss Bank Road.

The blaze has been described as “sickening” and “harrowing” by staff and firefighters.

Some people living in the area tried desperately to break into the compound after a passing police officer raised the alarm.

After more than 30 firefighters began to tackle the blaze, hundreds of people rallied round to provide refreshments, animal food and other help for the dogs that were rescued.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said 53 dogs had died, while about 150 were rescued.

The rescued dogs have been taken to the centre’s sister site near Warrington, in Cheshire.

Lisa Graham, from the home, yesterday said the local community has always supported the centre as the city grew around the site over the last 120 years.

She said: “We saw that last night. We saw that community out in droves. We saw them coming out with things you wouldn’t even expect.”

Ms Graham said one man brought his camper van and began making tea and coffee for the rescuers. She said another brought a case of water for everyone at the scene.

She said: “To think that for the length of time we’ve served this community and the many generations we’ve been serving this community and that one of them would come and do this to us is sickening.

“We had staff here last night that were coming out of the kennels in tears with dogs they knew. There were dogs in there that they cared for that they lost.”

A spokesman for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home said they would offer every possible assistance to the home.

He said: “This tragic incident has led to the loss of life of many rescue dogs. Battersea is very willing to help in any way we can over the coming days, weeks and months and we have attempted to contact Manchester rescue centre to see how we can support them at this difficult time.

“We have space at our Windsor centre to take in their rescue dogs and are ready and willing to send our animal ambulances to Manchester to help. We would also like to offer supplies to help them in the aftermath of the fire.

“Our staff and volunteers have all been asking how they can lend a hand to help our Manchester colleagues. Every dog lover in the country will be incredibly upset to hear of the disaster.”

Station commander Paul Duggan, from Greater Manchester Fire Service, said: “A number of the local people had made an attempt to try and rescue the dogs because, obviously, they could hear them in some distress.

“So what firefighters were met with was a fire in a fairly large building with some measure of security, so we had to break into that. You’ve also then got a number of dogs that were agitated and, obviously, when a dog’s in pain it may bite you, so you’ve got that risk. And, also, you’ve got a number of members of the public doing a very charitable thing, trying to help the dogs, but obviously it’s a risk to them.

“All in all a fairly complex and complicated and, also, harrowing incident.”

Bosses at the charity which cares for more than 7,000 stray and unwanted dogs each year said they were overwhelmed with the offers of help.

A JustGiving site set up by the Manchester Evening News (MEN) with the aim of raising £5,000 had secured £500,000 by 11.30am yesterday. It hit the £1 million mark at about 7.15pm last night – almost exactly 24 hours after the blaze broke out.

Most of the donations were just a few pounds each, sent anonymously by text message.

On its Twitter page, Manchester Dogs’ Home said: “A million. A million good hearts, a million amazing people thank you thank you thank you. ”

The MEN said it launched the appeal at 10.02pm on Thursday so it hit the £500,000 mark in just over 13 hours and £1 million in under 24 hours.

It said the appeal was given a boost early on when comedian Ricky Gervais retweeted the appeal to his six million Twitter followers and the total was going up by about £10,000 every five minutes.

MEN editor in chief Rob Irvine said: “This is a tragic story and the fact that it is believed to be an arson attack has left people shocked and angered.

“The response to the appeal also demonstrates what a local news organisation can do when it works with its readers and I am just pleased that the MEN can somehow help the dogs home recover from this terrible event.”

Manchester & Cheshire Dogs Home opened in 1893 and has rehomed more than one million dogs.

Published: Saturday 13th September 2014 by The News Editor

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