Dogs killed in Calumet Township fire

2013-01-30T16:18:00Z 2013-01-30T16:18:30Z Dogs killed in Calumet Township fireLauri Harvey Keagle, (219) 852-4311

Editor's note: Information about how many dogs died in the fire has been changed based on new information received Wednesday. 

CALUMET TOWNSHIP | Vee Gallagher on Tuesday stood outside the charred shell of a home where her daughter was born more than 40 years ago and threw her soot-covered hands in the air.

"It's all gone," Gallagher said.

The home at 1605 Elm St. in Calumet Township caught fire sometime before 9:30 p.m. Monday with her daughter's 10 Shetland sheepdogs and Chinese crested dogs inside. Some of the animals were champion show dogs.

Four of the dogs survived. The others either died in the blaze or died later of their injuries. No humans were injured in the fire, Gallagher said.

Gallagher's daughter, Kandi Sickles, 42, was born and raised in the home. Gallagher gave it to her daughter three years ago. Sickles has lived there with her dogs ever since.

Gallagher said her daughter came home to let the dogs out and left for a few hours to visit a friend in Hobart.

"She was gone for about an hour and a half, two hours," Gallagher said. "I got a call at home from the neighbor around 9:30 saying there were flames shooting out of the side of the house by the gas meters."

Lake Ridge Volunteer Fire Department crews worked with firefighters from Griffith and Merrillville to extinguish the blaze. Monday night, Lake Ridge Fire Chief Pat Booth said heavy smoke and flames were coming from the home when crews arrived.

Booth said on Tuesday the cause of the fire is still being investigated, but it does not appear suspicious.

Gallagher and Sickles used to own and operate Hoosier Groomers on Elm Street. Gallagher said Tuesday the animal care community already had reached out to her daughter, with a local animal hospital offering free cremation services for the dogs killed in the blaze.

Gallagher carried water-logged piles of her daughter's belongings out of the home late Tuesday morning while friends and family members worked to board up the windows, doors and holes in the siding.

"She lost everything," she said. "Those dogs were her kids."

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