Dogs die as blaze rips through horse shelter
TWO family pets are dead after a horse sanctuary went up in flames in Middleton.
The Tennyson Road Horse and Pony Shelter caught fire in the early hours of Thursday, (November 22).
Police confirmed that an investigation was underway but said that the incident is not being treated as arson at this time.
Luckily, the eleven horses which lived there had been outside at the time and were unharmed.
Tragically however, two American Bulldogs - Rocco, eight, and Manny, belonging to John Starkey perished in the blaze.
They were discovered by John’s 21-year-old son Aaron Starkey, who was alerted to the fire in the middle of the night by a friend who lives nearby.
“When the fire was out the fire brigade took me through the building and that’s when I found the two dogs, they were family dogs and they lived in the barn at night,” Aaron said. “I was distraught.” Photos from the scene show the extent of the damage to the burnt out structure. A number of motorbikes, as well as food, and farming equipment, have also been destroyed.
Aaron said: “The barn cost more than £20,000 and that was a charitable donation, it’s the horses’ home, they need it for shelter at night over winter.
“Without it they’ll be outside with no shelter and all we’ll be able to do is feed them more food to help keep them warm.
“The barn is completely burned out and there’s been more than £30,000 of damage.
“Inside the barn were my motorbikes and my son’s motorbikes - about £12,000-worth, as well as farm equipment and the horses’ food.
“We have had the shelter for more than 15 years and we’ve kept it going through donations. I don’t know what we’ll do now.”
John, 48, says he believes the fire may have been started on purpose. He said that although there have been no problems at Tennyson Road Horse and Pony Shelter in recent years, it has been targeted previously.
“In 2010 someone attacked one of our goats and ripped the horns from its head.
“After that, there was a lot of publicity, which is how we got the donation to build the barn.
“Police also placed a camera on one of the homes nearby, so we are hoping that whoever did this has been caught on CCTV.”
On Thursday morning, John and Aaron were joined by friends, family and volunteers to try and clean up the mess and see what, if anything, was salvagable.
They are now appealing for any donations of horses’ food, horses’ coats or wood, which can be dropped at the farm on Tennyson Road.
People are also able to contact Aaron on 07864 319132.
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said: “We were called at 2.31am to reports of a fire at a stables.
“We sent two engines from Heywood and Chadderton.
“Two dogs died in the fire.”
The burnt out Tennyson Road Farm Horse and Pony Shelter