MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Two weeks after a fire at a dog kennel in Muskegon County killed dozens of pets, a community-wide memorial service was held to help families cope with the sudden and tragic loss.
The fire happened on March 30 at Storm’s Ahead Kennels in Fruitport Township, killing 30 dogs.
A memorial service to honor those pets was held Thursday at Clock Chapel inside Clock Funeral Home in Muskegon. People filled the pews to hear from funeral director Jodi Clock and kennel owner Janet Rehfus.
“They’re now with their friends,” Clock told the grieving families. “They were with their friends when this happened and they are with their friends now.”
One of the dogs killed in the fire was Remington, an 11-month-old pup belonging to the Buckner family.
“We’ve received support from friends and family over the whole process,” Nick Buckner told 24 Hour News 8 after the service. “It’s how we ended our spring break trip, so that was difficult, but it was an accident. So we try to understand that and take things as it comes.”
The guilt some are feeling, especially the kennel, was acknowledged during the service.
“There’s not enough words that can say how bad I feel,” Rehfus said through tears. “I always enjoyed having each and every one of them come and spend the time with us. It was their camp they got to come to.”
She shared anecdotes about the dogs running and playing together on the kennel’s property only to need extra coaxing when it was time to go back inside.
The fire has people from all over the community showing support, including condolences coming in from as far as Australia for the families who lost a pet.
In addition to Clock Funeral Home organizing the service, Northside Veterinary Clinic owner Dr. Eric Peterson and Paw Pods, a Michigan-based urn company, donated urns and burial containers for the pets. Let Your Love Grow also donated ecofriendly services for those who wish to scatter their pet’s remains. Wesco and Walmart also stepped in to help support the event.
The Fruitport Township Fire Department determined the fire was not arson and started in the office, but the exact cause remains unknown.