Dogs die as blaze rips through horse shel­ter

Middleton Guardian - - CHRISTMAS LIGHTS SWITCH-ON - EMMA CURRY

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.”

STEVE ALLEN

The burnt out Ten­nyson Road Farm Horse and Pony Shel­ter

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