Animal advocate loses five pets in Scituate fire


SCITUATE, R.I. (WPRI) — A local animal advocate is mourning the loss of four dogs and a cat, all killed when a fire tore through her Scituate home last week.

Terry Brittell is an active member of the New England Humane Society and had adopted all of the animals, some of which had special needs. On Friday evening, she was about an hour away from home doing a meet and greet with a foster family when her phone rang.

Image courtesy Hope & Jackson Fire Company, Scituate.

It was her neighbor, telling her house was on fire.

“My first thought immediately is like, ‘Can you get my dogs out?'” she told WPRI 12 on Wednesday. But the neighbor on the other end of the phone wasn’t nearby — he was just relaying a message.

Brittell started making the drive back and called another friend in an effort to rescue her pets. By the time Brittell got back to her Briar Avenue home, it was too late.

“None of them made it,” she said. “I don’t even care about the house. I don’t care about nothing inside. My animals — they were my life.”

Fire Chief John Robinson said the fire was already extensive by the time crews arrived on scene. They were able to get the flames under control in about 15 to 20 minutes and pulled four animals from the burning home — none survived. 

A firefighter who suffered minor injuries was treated at the hospital and released. It appears the fire started in the kitchen, but the official cause is under investigation.

“Everybody did the best they could,” Brittell added. 

Photo courtesy Terry Brittell.

Since the fire, Brittell said the outpouring of support from friends and those in the animal advocacy community has been incredible. A GoFundMe had raised more than $26,000 as of Wednesday afternoon.

Brittell said she’s slowly rebuilding. She was staying in a hotel, but has since moved in with a friend who has a dog.

“Dogs are such amazing creatures,” she said, explaining how her friend’s dog has been showing her comfort during these difficult days. “Dogs know. They have a different soul.”

“The connection that I have with dogs is just mind-blowing,” she said. “If I get a call at 3 o’clock in the morning that I need to go get a dog, I’m going to be there. Because that’s all I care about. I feel like that’s why I was put here.”

Brittell said she is devastated by the loss of her pets, but comforted by the memories of the time they had together.

“I know I gave them all the best life, and that makes me grateful,” she said. “And they’re all together now.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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