An unthinkable tragedy just one week before Christmas has destroyed the shelter and killed about 160 cats.
According to a police report, the felines died from smoke inhalation after the blaze broke out early Wednesday morning.
Officials were only able to rescue nine dogs and two cats.
The Oshawa Fire Department was already on the scene at Waterloo Street when police officers arrived around 2:30am. The front of the building was completely engulfed in flames.
Rescue crews rushed in and began pulling animals from the burning shelter, placing the rescued pets in cruisers, but it was too late for most of the animals.
Animal Services arrived and took the survivors to a 24-hour animal hospital in Whitby for examination. They are expected to be fine.
The cost of damage to the building is estimated at approximately $250,000. In a tragic twist, the Society had already been looking for a new building.
Volunteers at The Humane Society of Durham Region spoke:
"It's devastating. Totally devastating. So many deaths. They were all so innocent," Karin Martens, president of the society, choked out through her tears.
"We're still in shock. We really haven't come to terms with the fact that these animals that we work with day in and day out and love like our own pets are gone," added distraught manager Ruby Richards.
"And now there's no animals left," sobbed volunteer Lori Neakin.
"The support hasn't been there for our organization to really get a home of our own and we have been desperately pleading for years for people to help us to do this," Richards added.
"We're giving the animals our heart and soul, you know the ones that are abused and left on our doorstep and thrown out on the highway. Where are they going to go?" Neakin asked plaintively.
- CityNews.ca Staff