ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — An Ottawa County kennel fire that killed 13 puppies early Monday morning was accidental, investigators have determined.
The Michigan State Fire Marshal and Allendale Township Fire Department have been investigating the fire since it happened around 2 a.m. at Whispering Oaks Farm Kennel, located on 84th Avenue north of Fillmore Street.
Co-owner Christine Wistrom said she smelled smoke. When she walked out the door, the kennel behind her home was engulfed in flames.
Inside were 42 dogs: beagles, border collies and Entlebucher mountain dogs. Thirteen were puppies.
Wistrom said she entered the burning building and opened the kennel doors so the dogs could escape. Firefighters and deputies arrived and began helping save as many dogs as possible. All 29 adult dogs got out. The puppies died.
Allendale Township Fire Chief Mike Keefe said Tuesday they determined the fire started at the north end of the kennel. There were several potential sources there that could have sparked the fire, but investigators cannot determine the exact cause. Keefe says the most likely source was an improperly placed heat lamp.
A lack of water hampered firefighting efforts. Keefe said there were no hydrants in the area, so several nearby fire departments had to shuttle in water to squelch the flames.
As the fire spread to the attic, deadly smoke dropped down into the kennel. The chief said the puppies died from smoke inhalation.
“They (the kennel) did have a spotless record every time that they applied for their license,” Keefe told 24 Hour News 8 Monday.
Whispering Oaks Farm Kennel is inspected every year by Ottawa County Animal Control. The kennel is licensed for 30 dogs, but the county doesn’t count puppies under the age of 4 months against the limit. Wistrom said all the puppies that died were less than 4 months old.
Relatives have set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds to rebuild Whispering Oaks Farm Kennel. The goal is $20,000.