Tragic Shelter Fire Kills 74 Dogs

$40,055 of $800,000 goal

Raised by 634 people in 35 months
Two days ago, our shelter, the Humane Society of Southeast Texas, was engulfed in flames and heavy, black smoke. As the first responders worked to put out the flames, members of the shelter staff, their families, shelter volunteers, and board members stood in the background, expressions of horror and hopelessness on their faces. We all felt so helpless. Some in the crowd, myself included, hoped for the best as the flames were coming from only a small area of the shelter.

It seemed to take forever before the firefighters entered the shelter. Moments later, banks of cat cages were being rolled out. The cats were alive and most seemed to be okay. Then several firemen walked out, each carrying a dog. The dogs were placed on the ground and the EMT personnel huddled over the bodies, administering oxygen.

Then one of the fireman walked over, motioned for our shelter manager (Carrie May Fontnow) to follow him and they walked away. We didn't need to hear the words.

That night, 74 dogs died. Only 13 dogs made it out alive.

Between that night and now, the horror and hopelessness has become tears and heartbreak for the staff and volunteers. Each one of them could tell you the name, the personalities, and the funny stories of every dog in the shelter. Our line of business has never been an easy one. We have lost animals before but this time was different, inconceivable, unacceptable. Our hearts are hurting. There is no amount of strength that could have ever prepared us for that nights terror. We didn't get to say goodbye. We didn't get to help them to the rainbow bridge and we will never be able to erase the images, the sounds, the smells.

Our shelter has dutifully served us for over 45 years, providing a home, love, and care to 150 to 200 animals at any one time. Now, the ceilings are caved in, the walls are covered in ash, and ghosts walk the hallways. Our survivors are all in foster care or receiving treatment at the vet clinic as the shelter awaits its verdict.

We are the Humane Society of Southeast Texas. We are the largest animal shelter in the Golden Triangle Area. We serve 8 different counties across southeast Texas and Louisiana. Our mission is to enrich the lives of pets and people through advocacy, education, and forever homes of our companion animals. Serving the homeless, abandoned, and unwanted pets of southeast Texas is our passion.

While waiting on reports regarding the extent of the damage, our small, local community has been overwhelming in their support. We've also received calls and emails from all over Texas, and from California to New York. Just today, we got a call from a shelter in England that experienced a fire several years ago; they wanted to let us know we can recover. The incredible amount of support is truly helping to heal our hearts and gives us hope. Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and donations.

With your support we will be able to overcome our devastating loss and re-build our shelter. Donations will be used to get the shelter back up and running.
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Tomorrow will mark one year since the fire. As we prepare to commemorate our 74 angels we think back on their last day. Not all may remember what they were doing almost exactly one year from today, but shelter staff and volunteers remember March 15, 2016 quite thoroughly. It was a beautiful day. It was a day in which every single dog in the shelter received extra playtime in the yards due to the increased number of volunteers and visitors that day. They had smiles on their faces, lots of cuddles from caring people, and love in their hearts! Not a day goes by that we do not miss each and every one of them.

We welcome you to come to the shelter for a short memorial tomorrow afternoon at 11:30. Prayer and a blessing will be led by Pastor Dan Tatum to honor our angels. If you cannot attend, we hope to be in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you again to everyone who has supported us through the most difficult year in our shelter’s history.

Pictured: Harvey and Mikoh the day of the fire. With pure joy across their faces! Rest in peace boys.
Harvey playing in the grass.
Harvey soaking up the sunshine.
Mikoh with his beautiful smile.
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This Wednesday, March 15th will mark one year since the night of the tragic fire that engulfed our shelter and took the lives of 74 cherished pets. Not a day has passed that staff, volunteers, and board members have not recalled that heartbreaking evening and the lives that we lost. To commemorate our 74 angels we will have a blessing of the pets at the shelter at 11:30 led by Pastor Dan Tatum with Christus. If you adopted a fire survivor please feel free to bring them, we would love to see their beautiful faces! We would like to invite anyone touched by our tragedy to come and pay their respects if you feel compelled to or just remember the animals who we lost. Thank you once more, from the bottom of our hearts, to those who stepped forward to assist us in our darkest hour. Whether a business, an individual, a foster parent, or a generous supporter, we could not have moved forward without you!

Currently, the Humane Society staff and volunteers are operating out of three portable trailers, a small dog enclosure, and a part of our veterinary clinic. We're doing our best under the circumstances. Staff and volunteers work in an environment that challenges them daily. Our current situation limits the number of animals we can house and the programs we can offer to people in Southeast Texas. We will continue to work here while we also work on raising funds to build a new shelter and a new sanctuary for the homeless pets of our community. We are, and forever will, remain committed to serving both the pets and people of our community.

Pictured is Charlie, one of our 74 angels and dearly missed friend.
Charlie loved pupachinos from Starbucks!
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HSSET would like to wish everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR! As 2017 kicks off HSSET takes a look back at some of our most memorable and life changing events this year. Our shelter dog, Mrs. Piggy found her forever home along with over 1,000 other shelter dogs and cats, we educated more than 5,000 students on humane treatment of animals, and we provided affordable spay and neuter surgeries to over 300 families. And, most heartbreaking, we suffered our largest tragedy in our 50 years of rescue.

We would like to thank each and every one of or supporters for their kind words, encouraging responses, and heartfelt loyalty. In our darkest hour, each of you showed us the light. Each of you gave us the strength and courage to continue to move forward. So, thank YOU and the happiest of New Years to you and yours!
Manager, Miss Piggy, and her new mom
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Months have passed since that tragic night, but for shelter staff, volunteers, and board members the road to recovery is a long one.

With the overwhelming support of the community, we have begun to get back on our paws. Three portable buildings now stand in front of our burned out shelter; one for necessary day-to-day office business, one to shelter cats, and one to shelter small dogs. Nine outdoor dog runs untouched by the fire were divided to create 18 smaller runs, then enclosed to create a climate controlled area for our larger residents. The runs were then split in half to add much needed space. We worked tirelessly to once again be up and running. Our goal was to create a functional facility that would provide our animals with a healthy and safe environment.

Without YOUR help, none of our recovery would have been possible. The outpouring of support you have shown us has helped to heal our aching hearts. You have been fundamental in allowing HSSET to continue the lifesaving work that is so vital to our community.

74 white crosses stand adjacent to our temporary shelter reminding us of the lives we lost and of the many lives we have yet to save.
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Read a Previous Update
Carla Jones
35 months ago

Cheryl, can you stop? You have launched your complaints everywhere. Take official action or leave it be and let us get on with the business of rebuilding and grieving. If that is not enough for you I suggest you donate your time to rectify the issues where you claim this organization has fallen short.

+ Read More
Rae Palmer
35 months ago

Our shelter was not a high-kill facility. We understand there were issues last decade with how the facility was being run, but as you can see from our numbers in 2015 we transitioned to a low-kill facility a long time ago. http://www.humanesocietyofsoutheasttexas.org/2015-in-review/ for reference.

+ Read More
35 months ago
8
8

I am from Beaumont and my heart aches for the animals that perished...i hope as you rebuild you will address prior high kill rates with City Council and add fire alarms and sprinkler systems to ensure these tradegies are not repeated.,Had a neighbor not called it would have incinerated all animals so precautions must be put in plave in new shelter... Many allegations were lodged for years against this shelter so as a citizen who grew up there..I ask you to not just "rebuild but to transition towards low kill with new procedures to be approved by changes in operations.. All shelters should consider possible fire danger and have in place alarm systems and sprinklers, none of which were in place causing a bad washer or dryer to kill almost all animals. Improvements at shelter and management should be addressed so we do not fund a high kill shelter as last one was...

+ Read More
Yenni Desroches
35 months ago
8
8

Sending thoughts and prayers for you and the surviving fur-babies. Found out about this from SweetPea FOR Animals here in central Massachusetts who went through a similar horror last november.

+ Read More
Pam Broussard Shelander
35 months ago
7
7

Yes, I assure you the Humane Society has been a low kill facility for many years. They have been working in concert with the Beaumont City Animal Control as well as Port Arthur City Animal Control to pull adoptable animals from those two places. The city shelters are unable to keep animals for more than a few days. The Humane Society along with several other rescue groups have been assisting the city shelters to save as many animals as they can. Please consider donating, and please share this gofundme account with everyone you know.

+ Read More
Bill Cowan
35 months ago
7
7

As a volunteer at HSSET for the past 2+ years, I'd like to echo Rae Palmer's comment. It has not been high kill shelter during the time I've been going there. Some animals have been there for months before being adopted.

+ Read More
Susan Colebrook Beard
35 months ago
6
6

I am a foster for HSSET and my family has adopted five pets from the shelter. It is distressing to read the uninformed and hurtful comments regarding the lack of a sprinkler system or monitored preventive systems. Please understand that the shelter exists solely by donations and struggles to meet the needs of the animals. I would ask those who are prone to being critical or are choosing to make negative remarks, do your research about the shelter, volunteer your time, give monetarily and of your talents. These things are so much more productive and improve the quality of life for the animals in the care of HSSET and in the lives of the staff, board members, and volunteers who give their all, and then some, to these pets.

+ Read More
Lisa Jarisch
35 months ago
6
6

My heart breaks and aches for such a tragic loss ! I will be sending a contribution via US mail, hoping you can rebuild and continue your service and care to the animals in need of shelter in your area. Prayers for all the new furangels at Rainbow Bridge....run free and safe, sweet ones ! ♥

+ Read More
CHristinaa Marie
35 months ago
5
5

Im so sorry this has happened. .im at a loss for words.my heart hurts with yours..i pray that u all can get threw n continue to help save more animals. .

+ Read More
Jill Manning Cole
35 months ago
4
4

As my grandmother always said, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all". Before people start in with criticism, know the facts. All staff and volunteers are devastated beyond belief. No judgement or order of priority comments are needed. Use that energy elsewhere.

+ Read More
Sissy M. Chesson
35 months ago
4
4

Prayers for everyone's heart, it's a empty hurt, a pain that can't even be explained, helplessness and grief. The innocent perished and we are left to pick up the pieces, for the 74 babies this shelter will rise again and continue to help the helpless and innocent.

+ Read More
Brittney Henslee
35 months ago
3
3

My heart aches for all the animals!! The only question I have is where is the 1 million dollars yall received to build a new building?

+ Read More
Donna Becker
35 months ago
2
2

It's hard to believe that anyone can think they're so compassionate if they choose THIS time to squawk -- anonymously, it seems -- about their agenda. You just make yourself look insensitive and stupid. If you can't participate in any way other than from in front of your keyboard, then just be quiet.

+ Read More
Emily Smith Droddy
35 months ago
2
2

I was out of state when I heard about the fire. I cried. Right now the kitty I adopted from the Humane Society a year ago is next to me as I type this and purring so loud. I would have been there to foster a kitty if I was here. Prayers for everyone and the little furries.

+ Read More
Carol Joy Benoit Albrecht
35 months ago
2
2

All of you who worked closely with and loved these babies have been on my mind every day. My heart breaks for you all. If this has ME so upset, I can imagine what you must be going through. You all keep your heads up, and keep doing what you do. You've made a tremendous impact on the lives of so many, just by giving so much of yourselves and loving God's creatures the way you do. I'm fostering a kitty and hope to adopt. There will be a silver lining in this HEARTBREAKING tragedy. God bless you all.

+ Read More
Laurie Goodwin
35 months ago
1
1

I just once again would like to say thank you all for everything. I work in the kennels at HSSET so I worked with all the dogs at the shelter on a daily basis. Even through the tragedy we will pull through with everyone's help. I just can't say thank you enough to the staff, volunteers, the donations that come in are such a blessing... thank you all once again.

+ Read More
Bree Porter
35 months ago
1
1

Great group of people who deeply care about these animals

+ Read More
Dianne Nowak
34 months ago

Please help this shelter with pledges on the go fund me so they can get back on their feet to help all these sweet animals that are surrendered, abandoned, or strays get a Second Chance.

+ Read More
Shannon Kozeny
35 months ago

We are here for you. Just bought my shirt and am passing the word around. XOXOXOXO

+ Read More
Mary Dawkins
35 months ago

It literally reads CLICK here to support 74 animals die in tragic fire...

+ Read More

$40,055 of $800,000 goal

Raised by 634 people in 35 months
Created March 18, 2016
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$100
Kathleen Rogers
23 months ago
1
1

13 yrs. ago I adopted Barney, a Rottweiler mix from the Humane Society. He passed away in August, 2016. He was a gentle giant. I know how your hearts must be hurting.

$55
Anonymous
25 months ago
1
1
$10
Anonymous
25 months ago
1
1
KG
$20
Kurt Gilman
26 months ago
1
1

Still thinking of those lost.

$25
Kim Reneau
26 months ago
1
1

God Bless and Godspeed.

$10
Dianne Nowak
26 months ago
1
1

I hope this will continue to help this shelter to rebuild

Carla Jones
35 months ago

Cheryl, can you stop? You have launched your complaints everywhere. Take official action or leave it be and let us get on with the business of rebuilding and grieving. If that is not enough for you I suggest you donate your time to rectify the issues where you claim this organization has fallen short.

+ Read More
Rae Palmer
35 months ago

Our shelter was not a high-kill facility. We understand there were issues last decade with how the facility was being run, but as you can see from our numbers in 2015 we transitioned to a low-kill facility a long time ago. http://www.humanesocietyofsoutheasttexas.org/2015-in-review/ for reference.

+ Read More
35 months ago
8
8

I am from Beaumont and my heart aches for the animals that perished...i hope as you rebuild you will address prior high kill rates with City Council and add fire alarms and sprinkler systems to ensure these tradegies are not repeated.,Had a neighbor not called it would have incinerated all animals so precautions must be put in plave in new shelter... Many allegations were lodged for years against this shelter so as a citizen who grew up there..I ask you to not just "rebuild but to transition towards low kill with new procedures to be approved by changes in operations.. All shelters should consider possible fire danger and have in place alarm systems and sprinklers, none of which were in place causing a bad washer or dryer to kill almost all animals. Improvements at shelter and management should be addressed so we do not fund a high kill shelter as last one was...

+ Read More
Yenni Desroches
35 months ago
8
8

Sending thoughts and prayers for you and the surviving fur-babies. Found out about this from SweetPea FOR Animals here in central Massachusetts who went through a similar horror last november.

+ Read More
Pam Broussard Shelander
35 months ago
7
7

Yes, I assure you the Humane Society has been a low kill facility for many years. They have been working in concert with the Beaumont City Animal Control as well as Port Arthur City Animal Control to pull adoptable animals from those two places. The city shelters are unable to keep animals for more than a few days. The Humane Society along with several other rescue groups have been assisting the city shelters to save as many animals as they can. Please consider donating, and please share this gofundme account with everyone you know.

+ Read More
Bill Cowan
35 months ago
7
7

As a volunteer at HSSET for the past 2+ years, I'd like to echo Rae Palmer's comment. It has not been high kill shelter during the time I've been going there. Some animals have been there for months before being adopted.

+ Read More
Susan Colebrook Beard
35 months ago
6
6

I am a foster for HSSET and my family has adopted five pets from the shelter. It is distressing to read the uninformed and hurtful comments regarding the lack of a sprinkler system or monitored preventive systems. Please understand that the shelter exists solely by donations and struggles to meet the needs of the animals. I would ask those who are prone to being critical or are choosing to make negative remarks, do your research about the shelter, volunteer your time, give monetarily and of your talents. These things are so much more productive and improve the quality of life for the animals in the care of HSSET and in the lives of the staff, board members, and volunteers who give their all, and then some, to these pets.

+ Read More
Lisa Jarisch
35 months ago
6
6

My heart breaks and aches for such a tragic loss ! I will be sending a contribution via US mail, hoping you can rebuild and continue your service and care to the animals in need of shelter in your area. Prayers for all the new furangels at Rainbow Bridge....run free and safe, sweet ones ! ♥

+ Read More
CHristinaa Marie
35 months ago
5
5

Im so sorry this has happened. .im at a loss for words.my heart hurts with yours..i pray that u all can get threw n continue to help save more animals. .

+ Read More
Jill Manning Cole
35 months ago
4
4

As my grandmother always said, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all". Before people start in with criticism, know the facts. All staff and volunteers are devastated beyond belief. No judgement or order of priority comments are needed. Use that energy elsewhere.

+ Read More
Sissy M. Chesson
35 months ago
4
4

Prayers for everyone's heart, it's a empty hurt, a pain that can't even be explained, helplessness and grief. The innocent perished and we are left to pick up the pieces, for the 74 babies this shelter will rise again and continue to help the helpless and innocent.

+ Read More
Brittney Henslee
35 months ago
3
3

My heart aches for all the animals!! The only question I have is where is the 1 million dollars yall received to build a new building?

+ Read More
Donna Becker
35 months ago
2
2

It's hard to believe that anyone can think they're so compassionate if they choose THIS time to squawk -- anonymously, it seems -- about their agenda. You just make yourself look insensitive and stupid. If you can't participate in any way other than from in front of your keyboard, then just be quiet.

+ Read More
Emily Smith Droddy
35 months ago
2
2

I was out of state when I heard about the fire. I cried. Right now the kitty I adopted from the Humane Society a year ago is next to me as I type this and purring so loud. I would have been there to foster a kitty if I was here. Prayers for everyone and the little furries.

+ Read More
Carol Joy Benoit Albrecht
35 months ago
2
2

All of you who worked closely with and loved these babies have been on my mind every day. My heart breaks for you all. If this has ME so upset, I can imagine what you must be going through. You all keep your heads up, and keep doing what you do. You've made a tremendous impact on the lives of so many, just by giving so much of yourselves and loving God's creatures the way you do. I'm fostering a kitty and hope to adopt. There will be a silver lining in this HEARTBREAKING tragedy. God bless you all.

+ Read More
Laurie Goodwin
35 months ago
1
1

I just once again would like to say thank you all for everything. I work in the kennels at HSSET so I worked with all the dogs at the shelter on a daily basis. Even through the tragedy we will pull through with everyone's help. I just can't say thank you enough to the staff, volunteers, the donations that come in are such a blessing... thank you all once again.

+ Read More
Bree Porter
35 months ago
1
1

Great group of people who deeply care about these animals

+ Read More
Dianne Nowak
34 months ago

Please help this shelter with pledges on the go fund me so they can get back on their feet to help all these sweet animals that are surrendered, abandoned, or strays get a Second Chance.

+ Read More
Shannon Kozeny
35 months ago

We are here for you. Just bought my shirt and am passing the word around. XOXOXOXO

+ Read More
Mary Dawkins
35 months ago

It literally reads CLICK here to support 74 animals die in tragic fire...

+ Read More
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