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Licking County Kennel Fire Kills 9 German Shepherd Puppies

A central Ohio man is recovering after helping save dogs from a fire at a kennel. Read more.

Nine puppies have perished in a fire inside a central Ohio dog kennel.

It happened Tuesday night east of Newark. Heath Waters, one of the kennel's owners, was injured and taken to a hospital after saving four other dogs from the blaze.

Jodi Waters, one of the owners who lives in a home in front of the kennel, said that the flames were already as high as the trees behind the building when she first noticed the fire at about 10:45 p.m., The Newark Advocate reported. Her husband Heath rushed to the kennel to try to free some of the dogs.

He suffered a foot injury trying to free the puppies. The mother of the litter, a 5-year-old German Shepherd named Wolfy, survived the fire.

Heath Waters said that his family started breeding German Shepherds out of pure love.

“Getting to see them born, see them develop a personality—they’re just like kids,” he said. “Every single one of them is different.”

Heath said that some of the pups were to be Christmas presents, each one of them precious and playful. That all changed when Heath's wife looked out their back window to a horrifying site: the puppies' kennel engulfed in flames.

“Sheer panic,” Heath said. “It was just—you know living things are inside and you don’t know exactly what you’re going to do.”

He raced into his backyard, and was able to free four adult dogs, including the pups' mother.

“I tried to go through the door, couldn’t get through,” Heath said. “It was just too hot.”

Heath Waters remembered the sounds as the flames engulfed the kennel.

“They were crying as I was trying to get through the doggy door to try and reach them,” He said.”They were in there whining and yelping and stuff. As I was beating through the back I could hear them.”

The only noise worse than their cries, was the silence that followed.

“At that point, it had done set in that I didn’t make it,” He said. “It was tough.”

The next morning, he faced the grim task of breaking the news to his children.

The children were not alone in their grief, Wolfy gave birth to the pups and still wants to care for them.

“We can't let her loose because her motherly instincts are to go find her babies,” Heath said.

This year’s will be a difficult Thanksgiving, but Heath says his family is thankful for the time they had with these pups, and for the faith that will help them get through their loss.

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