Fire at New Mexico animal hospital kills 66 animals


Practice owner receives outpouring of support from community.

A May 21 fire at Tucumcari Animal Hospital in Tucumcari, N.M., led to the death of 66 pets.

Lt. Lance Bateman with the New Mexico State Police says firefighters entered the building to save some of the animals but were able to rescue only five or six.

"Losing the building was one thing, but losing the animals was another," says practice owner Jean Corey, DVM. "Hopefully they can catch the person or people involved so nothing like this happens again."

Corey says an engineer from the insurance company is coming to see if the walls are salvageable but that the roof and the inside are gone. However, she has received numerous displays of support from the community, including offers to help rebuild. A relief fund was also set up at a local bank. "I had a seventh grader give me a dollar toward rebuilding the hospital," Corey says. "I've received lots and lots and lots of help from the community."

According to the fire report, firefighters arrived on the scene at approximately 4 a.m and had extinguished the fire by just after 7 a.m. Bateman says he is 99 percent sure the fire was set intentionally, but the police are waiting for lab results that could take up to four to five weeks.

Scot Jaynes, one of the respondents to the fire and emergency manager for Tucumcari and Quay County, says the blaze could be linked to two other recent fires in the area, including one at an adult probation and parole office on April 16. All of the fires occurred during the early hours of the morning and the causes are suspicious.

Bateman says the police are waiting for the lab results to confirm the source of ignition before they determine whether the fires are related.

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