THE CANADIAN PRESS
DECEMBER 17, 2008 AT 2:06 PM EST
Oshawa, Ont. — Animal protection workers are mourning the loss of at least 160 cats which perished early Wednesday in a ﬁre east of Toronto.
Fireﬁghters, who were called to the Durham Humane Society in Oshawa, Ont., just after 2:30 a.m., arrived to ﬁnd the building fully engulfed in ﬂames.
Emergency workers entered the building and rescued nine dogs, two cats and one rat, but scores of other animals succumbed to smoke inhalation, said Durham Region
“It’s tragic that so many animals lost their lives so close to the holidays, where there was probably a good chance some of them would have found homes,” said Ian
McConachie, a spokesperson for the Toronto Humane Society.
About 180 cats were killed early Wednesday morning after a ﬁre broke out at a Durham animal shelter
Mr. McConachie said the workers, volunteers and supporters of the Oshawa facility are very emotional and distraught following the loss.
“It’s always sad to lose an animal, to lose almost 200 is just unthinkable,” he said.
Alison Cross, a spokesperson for the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, called the event “devastating.”
“Their life’s work is towards animals and helping animals and unfortunately this tragic ﬁre has destroyed that,” she said.
“They spend their lives taking care of these animals and something like this is really heartbreaking to see and hear.”
The Ontario Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the ﬁre, which hasn’t yet been determined, said police.
The surviving animals were ﬁrst taken for treatment at a Whitby, Ont., animal hospital and are now being housed at Oshawa Animal Services Clinic.
Investigators are still tabulating the exact number of cats who died.
The Ontario SPCA, which is afﬁliated with the Oshawa facility, will assist with cleaning up, removing and properly disposing of the dead cats’ bodies. It will also help the
branch become operational again.
Ms. Cross said the society will be following up with the ﬁre investigations team.
“We deﬁnitely look to preventing this in the future, because animal protection is our number one priority and we never want to see anything like this again.”
In August 2006, the Ontario SPCA’s Midland and District Branch was destroyed in a ﬁre caused by a lightning strike. More than 30 animals were saved, while 29
perished. A subsequent fundraising campaign saw a new $1-million facility built as a result.
Damage to the Oshawa building is estimated at $250,000. The Ontario SPCA is accepting ﬁnancial donations at 1-888-ONT-SPCA ext. 323 or via