Lost our Home and Pets

The evening of November 1 was tragic and frightening for our family. We were on our way home from school and work, singing and laughing, and we had just stopped to grab something to eat. We pulled up to the house, and my daughter grabbed her key, offering to unlock the door for us. My husband, son and I were still finishing up listening to a song in the car. Suddenly, my daughter came running back, coughing, yelling "We left the heat on and something caught on fire".

My husband dashed out of the car, ran to the front door and yelled "oh no, Boss!". Boss was our dog and was near the front door, still in his crate. He was still not completely house trained, so he was locked in. We hurried up and grabbed the cage out of the house, but it was too late. In those moments, he was still taking his last few breaths and could not be revived. Panicking still, my husband grabbed the neighbors hose and started trying to put out the flames. Smoke cascaded out of the house in dark, heavy heaps like death's claws were reaching out, trying to rip the house apart, from the ground up. I called 911, while running to pull the knot out of the hose. I gave the information and received confirmation that they were on their way and quickly hung up.

Running around frantically and urging my son, who was crying in fear, to stay in the car away from the house, we started crying out for our other two babies (our cats). We were praying that they found refuge. "Lou Lou! Mona! Come on babies, it's ok! Lou! Mona!" Desperate to find them, my daughter lunged into the house, amidst the black clouds screaming for them. "I've gotta get the cats!" she screamed. My husband and I ran towards her screaming "no Claire! No! Don't go in there!". My husband began to crawl low on the ground with the hose, seeing, inthe distance, the flames coming from the outlet in the living room. " Give me your keys, I'm going to try to find the cats from the back" I said, hoping to enter the house to save them.

My daughter and I ran around back and unlocked the back door. We were met with more malevolent claws of smoke. My daughter tried to push past me. Blocking her, I yelled "no, go up front and hold the door for Stewart. Hurry!"

As she ran off, I continued screaming for the cats while the sounds of sirens began growing louder and louder as they approached. "Lou! Mona! Come on babies! It's ok!" Trying to hold my breath and push past the smoke, I tried to enter the back of the house. I couldn't even get in 3 feet. I bent down, knowing that from years of hearing about fire safety, staying low to the ground to try and crawl my way into the house. The smoke extended all the way down to the floor.

Drawing back and running towards the front, the first of the emergency responders were arriving. I nearly tripped over Boss's body because my daughter had pulled him out of the cage, trying to see if she could bring him back. "Everyone needs to get back." a fireman yelled, "Is anyone else in there?"

"Yes, our two cats!"

We all ran across the street while the firefighters began their work. The rest was a big blur of tears, flashing lights, noise and questions. One of the firefighters picked up Boss and laid him gently on the grass and we all gathered around him, crying in agony. He was wet, hot and lifeless. Then, a bit later, they brought out Lou. He was still and souless, and his fur was covered in soot. My daughter went to grab him as this was HER spirit animal. "Lou! No!" she screamed as she fell to her knees. The firefighter laid him down next to Boss. After what felt like an eternity and more begging for the firefighters to find Mona, they finally brought her out. She was dead. Her fur, too, was dirty and black, even in spite of her multicolored tones and rigamortis had started setting in already, her front paws outstretched as if she were reaching out for help.

That's the last of what anyone clearly remembered. Through the chaos and after the fire was out, we just stood there, holding each other. Crying off and on.

That's all we could do for the next few days.

Now that the panic and noise has stopped, we have found ourselves dealing with the harsh realities of homelessness and loss. We cry everyday for the three babies we have lost, but have to additionally face the lack of funds to be able to get back on our feet. The children are traumatized over the pet losses and seeing our blessings literally burn away.

Although the outreach has been tremendous and we feel immensely blessed by those that have helped, we still have quite a bit to go to get a new place and replace the rest of what we have lost. Unfortunately, we had no renters insurance, paid up some bills and are left with what money we are making. Even though we have jobs, it's not enough to get us where we need to be with the resources available to us.

Anything that can be donated to help would be absolutely amazing. Its why we have such a small goal. We hope that you can help so that we can begin moving forward with our lives. Furthermore, we hope that by blessing us that you will, in turn, be blessed tenfold.

From our family: much love and God bless!
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Claire Baldrick 
Louisville, KY
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