A Pomeranian breeder based in Rainier lost 20 dogs to a fire at the end of March, and several dog owners and community members are rallying together with a GoFundMe campaign to help the breeder “get back on her feet.”
The fire was “probably the most traumatic, devastating thing I’ve ever experienced,” said Trish Inman, an 11-year Rainier resident who has bred Pomeranians for more than two decades.
A barn on Inman’s property along Heath Road caught fire around 3 a.m. March 31. Her youngest daughter was the first to see the flames when a dog woke her by “being obnoxious and barking at the window,” Inman said.
“We got up to put it out because we thought it was small … and the whole building was engulfed,” Inman said. “I just fell to the ground screaming because I knew there was no saving anything.”
Columbia River Fire and Rescue responded to the fire, extinguishing the flames in the 600-square-foot barn before it spread to the house, said Chief Mike Greisen.
An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing, but is not believed to be suspicious, Greisen said.
Inman and her family recently moved to the property on Heath Road so the family could raise cows and goats, she said. She was keeping goats, livestock guardian dogs and several Pomeranians in the barn while the family waited for better weather to build a dog kennel and runs.
The goats and their guard dogs were free to roam between the barn and the pasture, but the Pomeranians were kenneled for the night, Greisen said.
Inman said she “tucks the dogs in” every night, checking on them around 10 or 11 p.m. before she goes to bed herself. Nothing seemed amiss the evening of the fire, but she woke about four hours later to the barn “ablaze, it was a fireball.”
“So that somebody else doesn’t have to go through this, I’m encouraging people to make sure their buildings are safe and have sprinkler systems,” Inman said.
Inman is left with just five dogs: A female with three puppies and a male who escaped the fire, she said.
“Phoenix is the boy who lived. I will start showing him when his coat grows back. … Right now he has a reverse Mohawk,” Inman said.
In the days after the fire, Inman stayed in bed and cried most days, she said. She didn’t originally plan to continue showing and breeding dogs.
“I thought I could never go to a dog show again. .. It’s too painful,” she said. “But I can’t imagine my life without Poms in it.”
Her friends in the dog show community are helping Inman raise money to replace her dog show items, starting with a GoFundMe campaign launched last week. The campaign will also help cover whatever costs her insurance doesn’t cover in replacing the barn.
“We haven’t heard back from insurance yet … so we can’t do anything until we get a letter of ‘this is what we will pay’ or a denial,” Inman said, adding, “I understand it’s a for-profit company … but my heart hurts … to think you might help someone recover financially after something like this.”
Inman said her dog show colleagues and the Rainier community has shown “nothing but kindness” as the family recovers from its loss. Although the GoFundMe effort “made me uncomfortable because I’m a servant … I do for other people,” she’s said it now makes her feel “loved and cared about.”