Resilience from ruin

Dogs save owners’ lives in Montrose house fire

KRISTIN GARDINER kristin.gardiner @KristinGardiner



SaltWire Network

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MONTROSE, P.E.I. – Were it not for their dogs waking them up in the middle of the night, Lora and William Stewart doubt they would still be alive. “If it wasn't for the dogs, we would be dead,” said Lora. While a fire burned through their Montrose home overnight on March 9, the two loyal canines – Posey and Prince – jumped into bed, waking William. Figuring they just wanted outside, William's instinct was to ignore them; fortunately, the dogs persisted, and William got up. “I got dressed and I just got outside the bedroom doors and that's when the smoke detectors went off,” he said. It was 3:45 a.m. For the next 11 hours, the couple watched as their home was consumed by flames and local fire departments fought to keep the destruction contained. The Alberton, West Point, O'Leary, Tignish and Miminegash fire departments all attended the scene. By the time the trucks left at 3 p.m., the place they called home had been reduced to a wreck. “The firemen were just unbelievable, it was amazing,” said a teary-eyed Lora. “We can't thank them enough.” As of 4 p.m. on March 9, the cause of the fire was still under investigation. For the last year, the Stewarts have operated Montrose Petting Farm on their property. They have around 80 animals, from dogs and cats to goats and horses. Lora cannot remember how she felt, rushing to get out of the house and watching the fire rage through the building. She does recall, though, that the pets were her top priority – getting the dogs outside and running back for the cats. Although their home and almost everything they owned are gone, all Lora can think about is how fortunate she feels that all their animals escaped unscathed. The wind, said Lora, was blowing away from their barn. “I'd have just gone crazy if something happened to them,” she said. “I love my animals more than anything.” Both Lora and William are shaken following the fire. Still, they refuse to let the chaos put their lives on pause and are keeping their petting farm open. “The animals still need attention,” said William. “They're all sooky babies.” In the aftermath, people from the community have dropped by to offer them clothes and other essentials to help in their time of need. Some, said Lora, even walked to the house with supplies while firefighters had the road blocked off. A neighbour has even offered up space in their house to the couple for as long as they need it. The couple had insurance, but it will be a long road to getting back on their feet. “It's just been overwhelming,” said Lora, who said the support was unexpected. “We appreciate everything that everybody has donated and helped us out with.”