- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2007

BLAND, Va. (AP) — An early morning fire destroyed an Amish family’s kennel and killed 90 puppies and 77 adult dogs being raised for a puppy-breeding business.

The fire was reported about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday in a barn used as a kennel and for equipment storage. Firefighters from three departments battled the blaze for more than four hours, Bland County animal control officer James Belcher said.

Chihuahuas and Yorkshire terriers were among the purebred puppies that died, but dogs in runs outside the kennel survived.

A kerosene heater used to keep the puppies warm may have caused the fire, Mr. Belcher said.

The dogs were valued at about $50,000 and the barn at about $40,000.

Philip Schmucker, 21, said the dogs were fine when he checked on them about 1 a.m. Wednesday. When his father, Ivan Schmucker Jr., rose several hours later, he heard barking and saw flames coming from the kennel.

“The first thing on our mind was getting the dogs out, but it was impossible,” Philip Schmucker said.

Ivan Schmucker said he helped his two sons start the breeding business last year in February with 10 dogs, and was committed to raising them “in a humane, healthy way.”

The dogs are sold mostly to brokers or to pet stores, Philip Schmucker said.

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