Margo Mossburg and her friends from Dachshund Rescue NW and the Dachshund Club of Spokane buried seven of Mossburg’s dachshunds in a field behind her house Monday just hours after the dogs were killed in a raging fire.
The animals were held in kennels inside a detached garage and never had a chance to get out when the 6:30 a.m. fire broke out at 9209 N. Brooks Road.
A heat lamp inside the garage may have fallen and started the fire, which spread to the main house just a few feet away, said Mossburg’s husband, Dennis Mossburg.
In a panic, the Mossburgs scrambled to save 16 dogs and two cats from inside the home as the fire threatened the dwelling. Firefighters arrived just as the blaze was igniting the home, and were able to extinguish it, although the house sustained substantial damage.
“I’m not sure it’s really sunk in yet,” Dennis Mossburg said of the loss.
He said he was asleep when his wife discovered the fire. She threw a pullover, sweat pants and slippers to him as he hurried to save the pets, he said.
Margo Mossburg suffered smoke inhalation but declined to be transported for medical treatment and received treatment at the scene.
A 2004 Mercury Mountaineer parked outside the garage was destroyed along with two other small outbuildings. The rescue service operates from the residence.
The fire inside the garage was so hot that it melted the bars on the kennels holding the dogs. Firefighters recovered the remains of the pets from the rubble after extinguishing the fire.
The Mossburgs considered the lost animals their “retirement dogs” because they were too old or had physical problems that prevented them from being adopted. “We are a rescue organization, so they are all special,” said Margo Mossburg.
She has operated a dachshund rescue service for 17 years, and has found homes for 69 dogs this year, surpassing the 59 dogs placed in 2008. The group works with the Spokane Humane Society, said Carolyn Smelcer, the assistant director of the organization.
Dachshunds are known as tenacious and strong-willed and are often given up by pet owners who have trouble with them, Smelcer said.
“A lot of these animals would be euthanized if we did not take them,” Smelcer said.
Smelcer was helping the Mossburgs deal with the fire damage Monday and find both new and temporary homes for the displaced dogs. The Red Cross was also helping the Mossburgs, who were planning to stay in a motel room on Monday.
Margo Mossburg said she sent six of her surviving pets to the Humane Society for temporary kenneling, but would like to place them in permanent homes. She said she only allows adoptions to pet owners who will be able to take proper care of the dogs.
Smelcer and other organization members were going to temporarily house the other surviving dogs, she said.
The Mossburgs also care for eight horses, which were corralled safely at a distance from the home.
Chief Nick Scharff of Fire District 10 said the cause of the fire was not immediately known, although the heat lamps were a possible source. Mossburg had been in the garage earlier in the morning, Scharff said.