Trapped Dogs Die as Fire Rips Through Westchester Shed

Many of the dogs were puppies, and an inspector said the kennel was illegal.

Wednesday, Nov 2, 2011  |  Updated 5:46 PM EDT
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Trapped Dogs Die in Illegal Kennel Fire

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A fire killed more than a dozen dogs Wednesday, many of which were puppies, in a backyard shed used as a kennel in Westchester County.

Elmsford Fire Chief Richard Hoke said the dogs died in their cages and probably were killed by breathing smoke rather than by burns. He said no dogs survived the morning blaze in Greenburgh, about 25 miles north of Manhattan.

"It was not a difficult fire but it was fully involved when we got there and the dogs had no chance," Hoke said. He said the fire destroyed the 20-by-20-foot shed behind a home.

A town inspector says the kennel was illegal.

Greenburgh Building Inspector John Lucido says the owner, a breeder, violated codes in two ways. He says only three grown dogs are permitted per household and it was illegal to run a business out of that neighborhood.

Lucido says the owner, Ross Taylor, was warned about a similar violation in 2006 and took care of the violation.

A call to Taylor's home was answered by a man who would not comment or give his name.

Greenburgh police Lt. Joseph Ryan said Taylor breeds large Italian mastiffs of a breed known as the Cane Corso. It was not immediately known if all the dead dogs were that breed, but Hoke said they all seemed to be the same breed.

Cane Corso puppies often sell for more than $1,000.

Ryan said eight of the dogs were 5 months to 7 years old, the rest younger.

He said a preliminary report from detectives and fire marshals suggested the cause of the fire may have been a space heater, but the investigation continued.

No charges had been filed, Ryan said. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was at the scene.

Ryan said the fire was reported to Greenburgh police just before 7 a.m. The Elmsford Fire Department was then called, although the fire was just outside Elmsford, in an unincorporated area of Greenburgh.

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