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Youth quizzed over dogs' home blaze

A 14-year-old boy is being questioned on suspicion of arson after a blaze at Manchester Dogs' Home which killed more than 40 dogs.

Firefighters were called to the scene in Harpurhey shortly after 7pm last night when a fire broke out in a kennel section.

About 150 dogs were rescued and are in the process of being moved to the charity's sister home in Grappenhall, Cheshire.

Hundreds of residents flocked to the site in Moss Brook Road with dog blankets, cages and food, with some reportedly helping to save some of the animals.

More than 30 firefighters brought the blaze under control with damage caused to about a third of the kennels.

A joint investigation by Greater Manchester Police and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service is under way as dampening down at the home continues.

Superintendent Marcus Noden said: "We are working closely with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service to establish how this tragedy has occurred.

"We are in the very early stages of the investigation and have a young boy in custody, however we would ask if anyone was in the area and remembers seeing anything suspicious around the dogs' home that they call police and tell us what they know.

"As a dog owner myself I understand that many people will feel angry and upset about what has happened but I would ask that they let the police carry out their investigations and not take matters into their own hands.

"We have received an overwhelming response from the public and would ask if anyone wants to help they can make donations of food or bedding to North Manchester divisional headquarters on Northampton Road in Newton Heath."

GMFRS station commander Paul Duggan said that some parts of the roof of the single-storey kennel section had collapsed and firefighters were working to ensure it was made safe before assessing the full damage.

Anna Stansfield, manager of Cheshire Dogs Home, described the blaze as "soul destroying" and added all the rescued dogs would be transferred to its site in Cheshire.

She said she could not comment on the circumstances of the blaze but confirmed that four members of staff were working there at the time.

Ms Stansfield said: "I cannot describe what we have seen tonight. It's soul destroying.

"We are so grateful to the people of Manchester and Greater Manchester who have come to support us but we need to get the roads clear so we can get the dogs out."

Manchester & Cheshire Dogs' Home opened in 1893 and has rehomed more than one million dogs.

The registered charity is said to care for more than 7,000 stray and unwanted dogs each year and manages to rehome 95% of them.

A surge in donations on its its JustGiving website took place in the wake of the blaze.

Among those donating were Dominic Hunt who wrote "Heartbreaking. I wish I could give more" and Susan and Leanne Gresty, who said: "There are no words to describe the sadness we are feeling for the poor little animals who have lost their lives and those that are suffering tonight."

Singer Jodie Prenger, a patron for Manchester & Cheshire Dogs' Home, tweeted: " All my thoughts are with you guys. It's broke my heart to hear such sad news."

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home said it was "incredibly saddened" to learn of the fire. A spokeswoman said: "We extend our deepest sympathies to all the staff and volunteers at the centre.

"We understand this tragic incident may have led to the loss of life of several rescue dogs.

"Battersea is very willing to help in any way we can over the coming days and weeks and we have attempted contact with the Manchester rescue centre to see how we can support them at this difficult time."

A JustGiving account set up by the Manchester Evening News in the wake of the fire has raised more than £100,000 in the space of a few hours, with donors from across the UK and even abroad.

Manchester Fire tweeted their thanks to the donors, saying: "One hundred and fifty dogs rescued. Thousands of pounds donated. Thank you Greater Manchester."

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