Canandaigua, N.Y. - Lori Hicks remains haunted by images from the fire that destroyed her home, kennel, and breeding operations on November 26th
. “I’m trying to get through the days without crying. I think I’ve made it through two without crying,” said Hicks.
Yet Hicks said in the months since, she has a lot to be grateful for. “I’ve been told I touched a lot of people’s lives and I guess they’re reaching out to touch me back,” said Hicks. “People from all over the world are calling me.”
A woman from Denmark made harnesses for her surviving dogs, all Alaskan Malamutes. A man from Germany who has one of her champion dogs flew all the way to the U.S. to bring her quantities of dog food.
“It’s overwhelming that there are so many people out there that are willing to help.”
Hicks and her husband lost 26 pets in the fire, including 12 puppies that had been promised to homes all over the world. While she mourns the pets she calls her children, she takes comfort that the night also brought “a miracle.”
Salem, one of her champion bloodline dogs, was pulled unconscious and unresponsive from the blaze by a firefighter who then revived her using an oxygen mask made for a person.
“If it wasn’t for that oxygen mask, Salem would not be alive,” says Hicks.
From that story of survival, came an idea: to help save the lives of other pets through the purchase and donation of pet oxygen masks to fire departments and breeders. A set of oxygen masks for a large dog, small dog, and cat can be purchased for $75 dollars.
“The masks are important to me because I don’t want anybody to go through what we went through because it’s just heart breaking,” said Hicks.
She turned to fellow classmates from the Canandaigua Class of 1975, people who have reached out to help her since the fire.
“People were like ‘lets just do this’ and it all just mushroomed,” said Maura Hallstead, of the Class of 1975. “One person we graduated with who lives in Texas wanted to send a check. It was for $200 dollars!”
They started a facebook page “masks for mutts” to take the effort beyond their former classmates. The group is holding a fundraiser Sunday, December 23rd at the V Pub in Canandaigua to raise money for pet masks.
Salem is now recovered. Lori Hicks brought her to the home of the firefighter who saved her life. “She walked right up to him and licked him. He said ‘she remembers me’, Hicks recalls with tears.
“I said she will always remember you because you impacted her life.”
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