Blaze-hit kennels hoping to rebuild
Posted on February 28, 2008
A boarding kennel in Eaton Bray is ready to rise from the ashes again after a devastating fire that struck last summer.
Appledown Kennels, in Harling Road, hit the headlines in August when an early morning blaze broke out in a boarding block and prompted a huge rescue operation.
Nearly 40 dogs were pulled to safety by brave firefighters and staff, but sadly three pets perished after being overcome by flames.
Since then the past six months have been a struggle for everyone working at the kennels, and they now hope to put the sorry incident behind them.
A planning application has been put forward by the kennels to open a new block to replace the building devastated by the blaze.
This week, Appledown owner Julie Shelton told the Gazette: "Hopefully, if this goes through smoothly, we'll be back to normal by the summer."
As a result of the blaze, Julie said the kennel's capacity had been seriously reduced, and staff have had to work hard to steer the business through a difficult time.
She said: "It's hit us, obviously, particularly over Christmas and the really busy periods.
"What we've done is said our priority is to our regular customers, so we haven't had to turn them away."
And Julie said she had been bowled over by the response from members of the public.
"It's just brilliant, people have been great," she said. "It's one of those things that people understand, fires do seem to just happen.
"You can't predict it, but it brings out the best in people, and they've been sympathetic and understanding."
She also praised her staff who, she said, were devastated by the blaze.
A fire investigation absolved the kennel of any blame for the fire, and police confirmed at the time that it was not viewed as suspicious.
Julie now hopes that the building work can bring back a sense of normality to the kennels.
She said an end wall needs to be replaced, and work needs to be done on the roof of the building, but, surprisingly, the rest of the boarding house is still structurally sound.
After the flames were quelled back in August, firefighters said they had never had to deal with so many animals in one fire.
Four dogs were unconscious when firefighters arrived, but two were dramatically revived using oxygen masks.
Appledown offers boarding kennels for pets whose owners are on holiday, as well as a home for dogs in need of rehousing.
Over the past year, the number of dogs in need of a new home has shot up dramatically, and another boarding house was recently set aside for them.
Julie said: "This last 12 months has been much, much worse than the other previous years.
"I think it's partly because of people being nervous about a recession. I think we've got some of that. Also there's been a lot of dog attacks in the news. I think that's had an effect."
The kennel owner added that many people buy pets without thinking about the amount of work and care they require, and often end up abandoning them.
At the moment Appledown has 55 dogs hoping to find new homes. Julie said that all sorts of breeds find their way to the kennels and urged anyone who thinks they can provide a home for a dog to get in touch.
The kennel can be contacted on 01525 220383, or by emailing [email protected] Alternatively, people interested in finding out more can pop by between 10am and 4pm each day.
For the latest news from Eaton Bray and beyond, get the Dunstable Gazette every Wednesday and make a daily date with Dunstable Today.
Source: Dunstable Gazette, 27 February 2008
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