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Doggie Hotel Rebuilding After Fire

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  • Doggie Hotel Rebuilding After Fire

    NORTHUMBERLAND — In June, the worst happened to Wuffdorf Astoria: the overnight dog boarding facility burned to the ground.

    But now, the dog hotel is nearly rebuilt, better than ever. The owners plan to start boarding again on Jan. 1 and were able to continue their grooming business in a mobile unit just three hours after the devastating fire.

    “We didn’t take a day off,” said owner Jen Countermine, explaining she thought she could lose the customer base she had built over the last 10 years if she closed for months.

    “That was our biggest fear,” she said.

    Instead, customers rallied to her side. They recommended her grooming to others, while cheering every step of the construction to get the hotel reopened.

    “I’ve only gained customers,” she said.

    She parked the mobile unit outside the burnt husk of a building at 4911 Route 50, and posted photos online as the new building slowly took shape behind her.

    She and her landlord, her father Randall Countermine, still haven’t gotten an insurance payout, which has made things difficult financially. While Jen didn’t have to pay for the construction, she did have to pay rent on the mobile unit she borrowed to keep the grooming business open.

    Randall Countermine didn’t get any rent from her during that period, and he has had to front the money for the rebuild.

    “We just decided to do it no matter what,” he said. “They’re good young business people and very passionate about what they do. We couldn’t see them not carry on.”

    The town helped as well, granting a temporary permit so that Tara Leda could reopen her dog agility course in a different location until the building was completed.

    Leda’s Follow The Leda agility training business was also renting at the building.

    It burned down overnight on June 18, after a fire accidentally started at a third business renting there. The fire smoldered in foam at a foam insulation installation company, and began to spread well after midnight. A passerby saw the fire and called 911, but firefighters arrived to find fire already shooting out the back and roof.

    They ran inside to rescue four dogs that had been staying overnight at the Wuffdorf Astoria, and later dragged out a trophy board with ribbons from Leda’s business, as well as kennel records.

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    It took 16 fire departments and 12 tanker trucks to put out the fire. Inside the building, temperatures reached 200 degrees. It was so hot that the tin ceiling began to melt and firefighters had to endure melting tin dripping on them as they fought the flames.

    There has been a silver lining: Leda and Countermine were able to help design the new building. Countermine is also going to have a larger space, which will help with her growing business.

    In addition to the design, she has added plans for fire protection.

    “We have a brand-new fire system that hooks directly to the fire department, if there is even a one-degree change in temperature,” she said.

    Once the boarding facility opens, she will also have a chart on the front of the kennel, posting details about overnight guests.

    “So they’d know if there was an animal in there,” she said.

    The night of the fire, firefighters had no idea how many dogs — if any — were inside. They rescued the four that they found, but were afraid they’d missed some. That was the first question they asked Countermine when she arrived.

    When she told them four dogs were being boarded, they told her all four were safe.

    “I started crying and I grabbed all the firefighters’ faces, I was so overcome, I was that grateful,” she said.

    Until that moment, she hadn’t known that they rescued any of the dogs.

    “I’m running down the street, shouting, ‘There’s dogs in there!’” she said. “It was the most terrifying experience of my life.”

    She is even considering putting in cameras so that she can check on the dogs from home at any time.

    “We can replace things,” she said. “We can’t replace people’s kids they leave in our trusting care.”
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  • #2
    I am curious if anyone knows. If you have a building with fire sprinklers would that be enough to guarantee all or most boarded pets would make it?


    • #3
      Good question, Muddy. Don't think it would make too much difference tho, since most deaths are from smoke inhalation. Maybe since the dogs are low to the ground they could be OK. Such a tragedy, sure hope they put in those cameras. I don't think pets should be left totally unsupervised overnight.
      Old groomers never die, they just go at a slower clip.

      Groom on!!!


      • #4
        I would hope the sprinklers who kick on early and avoid a lot of smoke.