St. Johns County

St. Augustine family loses 21 rescue animals in fire

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — A St. Augustine family who lost their home in Hurricane Matthew is now dealing with another loss.

A fire destroyed Dora White’s house on US 1 South in St. Augustine Friday, killing 21 pets inside.

“So this is where it started,” White said. “From what I understand, the smoke went everywhere in the ceiling and everything was billowing down.”

White said she was at work Friday when she got the call. She and her husband were fostering five cats and rescued 15 of their own. Two of their dogs were also inside.

“We don’t care about us, it’s always been about them. And to lose them all at once,” White said.

As they were dealing with the incredible loss, a close friend launched a GoFundMe to help. It quickly passed the $5,000 goal.

“I don’t even know what to say. It’s so overwhelming,” White said. “It’s amazing. I can’t believe how many people care.”

Her coworkers at Florida Cracker Cafe also wanted to help. They asked Action News Jax to share the surprise. The owner is matching all the donations White’s coworkers come up with.

“I’m in shock. All I can say, is that I promise anyone who has donated that we’re going to help more animals in the future. It won’t go to waste at all. We’re going to save more lives,” White said.

She said Southeast Veterinary Hospital is helping with cremations for the 21 pets she lost and Ayla’s Acres has been supporting since the moment she found out about the fire.

Now, White is coming up with a plan for their new house that will allow her to foster and rescue more cats and dogs.

“Honestly, my whole life is animals. So the house will be set up for animals and to be able to foster more,” she said. “If I can set it up to have quarantine areas … That’s all I want to do, is help them and get back into helping them.”

She said if families take anything from their loss, she hopes it encourages them to do anything they can to help animals in need.

“If we can inspire just one person to foster or just one family to look at an ugly pet that no one wants or that’s been at the shelter a long time, then we consider us doing something right.”