Tinley Park firefighters rescue dozens of cats, dogs after PAWS shelter fire

ByMaher Kawash and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, January 18, 2024
Dozens of cats, dogs safe after PAWS Tinley Park fire
Dozens of cats and dogs are safe Thursday after a fire at PAWS Tinley Park Wednesday night.

TINLEY PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Dozens of cats and dogs were rescued after a fire at PAWS Tinley Park Wednesday night.

The village of Tinley Park said firefighters responded at about 6:30 p.m. after a large dryer fire at PAWS of Tinley Park at 8301 W. 191st St.

"Now this is not a typical dryer that you have in your house, this is more of an industrial large dryer," Tinley Park Fire Chief Steve Klotz said. "So there was a large amount of fire in there, but again... quickly extinguished."

Firefighters and volunteers rescued 55 cats and 42 dogs, who were transported to Midwest Animal Hospital for observation.

"So we actually set up a what I call a like a chain gang, where the volunteers were given us boxes to put the mostly cats inside the boxes and then they waited by the front door outside and were able to take the cats from that location and dogs to waiting volunteers and cars and transported them to Midwest Animal Hospital," Klotz said.

The fire did not spread beyond that laundry room, and some minor smoke damage appeared to be the worst of the damage.

While crews controlled the flames, the dogs and cats were quickly shipped off down the road to the Midwest Animal Hospital in Orland Park for temporary shelter.

"All of the patients were successfully transferred back here to the hospital, bathed, examined and set up with treatment plans," said Midwest Animal Hospital practice manager Katrina Obregon.

The dogs and cats are getting the care and love they need, and all of them are safe, with only a few of them suffering from smoke inhalation.

As the pets get taken care of, word has already quickly spread around town about the fire at the shelter, and the community sprinted into action. Donations came in non-stop since Wednesday night. An entire room was filled with bags of necessities for the shelter as people stopped by to help in any way they could.

"We have an incredible community," PAWS Tinley Park board member Bradley Rahm. "Donations are just pouring in, even as early as 11 o'clock last night, people were still trying to drop stuff off. It's amazing the community stepped up the way it does."

PAWS said they're getting a look at the damage Friday, but aren't sure when they'll be able to move the animals back in. There is a possibility they could be operational in as soon as two days.