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Giant dogs that saved Northern Ireland family from fire have to find new home

By Brett Campbell

A mother forced to flee her smoke-filled home through an upstairs window with her children said they would have died if her dogs hadn't woken her.

Janette Nelson told the Belfast Telegraph how her three-year-old Newfoundland dogs saved her life after her Carrowdore home was attacked by arsonists in the early hours of last Friday.

"If it wasn't for my neighbours and the dogs I know we would be dead," she said.

Thanks to Olaf and Lola, the family was able to escape unhurt.

They are currently in temporary accommodation and the dogs now need somewhere to stay. However, four kittens, born hours before the house was set on fire, died in the attack.

Ms Nelson had fallen asleep on the sofa of her Co Down home last Thursday night when the friendly giants pounced on her after hearing an "almighty crack" coming from the back of the house at around 3.30am.

"The kids were screaming and my six-year-old was throwing up. My neighbours heard the screaming and came out," she said.

As thick, black smoke rapidly filled the house, the 43-year-oldmanaged to find step ladders before gathering her children in her upstairs bedroom.

"Luckily, my bedroom door had been closed and it hadn't filled with smoke yet," explained Janette.

She then threw the ladders out the window as neighbours rushed to help them escape to safety.

"One neighbour came running out and went straight up the ladder, with no thought for her own safety," she said.

Eli (6), Zofie (12) and Bryanne (17) have been left badly shaken as a result of the attack and were further traumatised to learn that the four little kittens perished in the fire.

Puddin, the family cat, had given birth to the litter just hours before the attack happened, but Janette said that "their tiny lungs didn't stand a chance". The distraught mother is now homeless and has moved the family into a privately-leased two-bedroom flat as a temporary measure, but pets are forbidden.

The heartbroken animal lover, who endured similar attacks in Newtownards in 2012 and had "Taigs Out" sprayed on her home just a few weeks ago, said her sister can care for Oreo - a Jack Russell pup - and Puddin the cat, but she is unable to take the large Newfoundland dogs.

"It's just trauma after trauma. It would be such a blessing to find someone who wouldn't mind us coming to take them out for a walk.

"I would like to keep them together, it's breaking my kids' hearts. My son cried when he found out they couldn't come."

A spokesperson for the Housing Executive confirmed the majority of landlords who provide temporary accommodation stipulate that pets are not allowed and said they were not informed about the dogs.

  • Anyone interested in fostering friendly giants Olaf and Lola should contact Charmayne Gourley at PetMinderNI

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