Gina Chapman has four horses, eight dogs, one pig and something like 40 cats on her York County farm – and that doesn’t even cover the adoptable animals.
Chapman houses close to 20 rescue dachshunds in a small kennel. She runs Chapman’s Dachshund Rescue, a rescue kennel for dachshunds and doxie mixes.
But the rescue is in the middle of rebuilding. A Sept. 20 fire destroyed Chapman’s main kennel, a large building that had finally finished many remodels and was full of rooms with hand-painted murals by Chapman’s husband.
The loss of the kennel was devastating for the rescue organization. But the loss of eight dogs was even more so.
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The dogs’ ashes are kept on a shelf in a smaller kennel on Chapman’s property, now being used to house the rescue dogs. Many of the dogs who survived the fire have since been adopted, Chapman said.
She doesn’t like to talk about the dogs that died.
“It’s sad,” she said. “People ask how many dogs we lost and I try to say: We saved 49.”
The rescue organization hopes to move a large kennel building onto the property soon. The new building would be 27 by 84 feet, Chapman said, but they have to get the addition approved by the county first. And she doesn’t know how much everything could cost.
She said the small kennel is at full capacity, and several dachshunds have health issues, ranging from a healing broken pelvis to paralyzed back legs. She has dogs ranging from ages 6 months to 10 years.
“I can’t take the capacity that I did before,” Chapman said. “I never had to turn one down. So, I’ll take any dachshund no matter their age or health or personality.”
The fire started around 7 p.m. Sept. 20, fire officials said at the time. The York County Fire Marshal’s Office investigated and though the official cause is undetermined, county officials say it was believed to be caused by an electrical issue. There was no criminal intent, York County Council clerk Karen Brogdon said.
“It was panic,” Chapman said. “I wasn’t prepared for it. Just scrambling.”
She said the dogs had pet doors to reach the outside cages of the kennel, and she and her family opened the gates to the outside kennel.
“Thank god they did have dog doors to get out,” she said. “Opening the gate – it was just shock … By the time we made it around the building to let everybody out, it was completely engulfed in flames.”
Newport, York and Bethel fire departments responded, and the York County Animal Control helped bring dogs to local veterinarians.
Chapman said another dachshund rescue in Greensboro helped house dogs, along with the Humane Society and the Greater Charlotte SPCA.
“It was just amazing to have the vet’s offices and the other rescues to really team up,” she said. “People were out here that night when they saw what was going on.”
Chapman still needs to find a good handyman to help her set up a temporary second kennel, she said, and may need help painting the large kennel when it’s installed.
For information on how to help, visit chapmansdox.com/donate.
“It was so stressful in the beginning, just trying to get everything come together,” she said. “And now I’m just saying OK, it’s going to happen when it happens. I’m just going to stay on top of it.
“But I’m ready for this to happen so I can have more space. I don’t like turning dachshunds down.”