A SUSPECTED arson attack on a dogs’ home which left more than 50 animals dead has been described as “sickening” and “harrowing” by staff and firefighters.
A fund set up following Thursday night’s horror has now passed the £1 million mark.
The blaze at the Manchester Dogs’ Home, in the Harpurhey area of the city, provoked a huge outpouring of local concern when it started just after 7pm.
Some people living in the area tried desperately to break into the compound after a passing police officer raised the alarm.
And after more than 30 firefighters began to tackle the fire, hundreds of people rallied round to provide refreshments, animal food and other help for the dogs that were rescued.
Police were yesterday continuing to question a 15-year-old boy arrested on suspicion of arson. 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, said the local community has always supported the centre as the city grew around the site over the past 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 people at the scene.
“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.”
She described in the incident as ‘‘sickening’’.
Detective Inspector Neil Jones said: “Last night a local neighbourhood officer was passing and saw a plume of smoke coming up from the dogs’ home and responded really quickly, as did a vast number of the local community and the fire service.”
The officer said: “The public reaction immediately and overnight has been really, really overwhelming. We’re really, really grateful for the response that we’ve had.” Mr Jones added: “I’m treating it as an arson investigation at the moment based on the extent of the fire and the initial outpouring from the community and some of the information we’ve been provided with so far.”
He said the centre was made up of a series of buildings, one of which had been completely destroyed.
Station commander Paul Duggan, from Greater Manchester Fire Service, said it was ‘‘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 with the aim of raising £5,000 had secured £500,000 by 11:30am yesterday from 53,000 donors. It passed the £750,000 mark yesterday afternoon and topped
£1 million last night.
Most donations were sent anonymously by text, with the total rising £10,000 every five minutes. On its Twitter page, the dogs’ home said: “Words are not enough. Thank you everyone.”