More than 50 animals were killed in a fire Monday morning at an animal shelter in Paxton, Massachusetts, according to shelter staff.
Flames sparked early Monday at the Sweetpea Friends of Rutland Animals shelter on Pleasant Street, a non-profit, no-kill shelter founded by a retired animal control officer.
"They're really just like family to us, so we miss them all," said shelter founder Dick Clark, choking back tears. "But they're gone."
The shelter put out a call on Facebook asking veterinarians and other volunteers to help move and treat animals pulled from the damaged shelter.
"This is not a drill. Please help!" the shelter posted on its Facebook page early Monday.
Volunteers sprang into action but only a a handful of animals survived. Rescuers pulled five dogs from the blaze, two of which died overnight. Three remain in stable condition and another is critical, according to the shelter.
One cat was also rescued and in stable condition. Another remains loose in the woods.
The shelter's president said 17 dogs and 39 cats were killed.
According to a post on the shelter's Facebook page, the facility "lost almost everything" in the fire, including computers and files dating back to 2012.
"Awful big expense in front of us now too, and we can't replace the animals," Clark said. "I wish we could."
There is no word on what sparked the blaze. Paxton fire officials believe a faulty heating unit may be to blame.
Below is a wish list Sweetpea Animals has requested on Facebook: