MONTCLAIR, NJ - Dozens of dogs and cats were rescued from the Montclair Township Animal Shelter (MTAS) April 3, after a 2-alarm fire broke out at the rear of the building.

Montclair Fire officials were called to the scene of 77 N. Willow Street sometime around 12:30p.m. After about an hour, most of the fire was under control with only small pockets of fire and smoke remaining. The majority of the damage occurred toward the rear of the building near the dog area. The area where the fire occurred had just undergone some renovations in the last year to make the shelter conditions more comfortable for the animals.

Shelter volunteers, Animal Control staff and good Samaritans were on hand to assist in getting the animals to safety quickly. A local business across the street from the shelter opened their doors to house the animals until foster homes could be identified. 

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Shelter volunteer Eric Delmar stated that he was inside of the building when the fire broke out. He and other volunteers who had been inside were able to get the animals outside to safety.

Some volunteers stated that they had been bitten in trying to rescue the panicked animals, but sustained only minor injuries, Witnesses stated that almost a dozen additional shelter volunteers were in the building for a volunteer orientation at the time of the blaze.

Around the perimeter of the property, shelter volunteers could be seen holding leashed dogs or carrying cats during the cold weather conditions. Many volunteers stepped in to foster the animals, while Karen of the MTAS walked the property taking inventory of the animals.

Animal shelter employees across the state sprung into action to offer assistance with housing the animals, if needed. Cranford and Elizabeth Animal Shelters offered temporary housing to their Montclair counterparts, while volunteers took to Facebook to also locate foster homes.

By Sunday afternoon, an adoption event that had been planned for April 10, was immediately switched to a fundraising event. Entitled “Our Pound in Town”  The Awareness & Adoption Day Block Party Event is scheduled to take place from 11am to 3pm at the shelter located at 77 N Willow St,

According to an earlier release, Shelter Director Niki Dawson said, “This special day will be one huge town block party to help raise awareness of the Montclair Township Animal Shelter and all of the community services it provides as “Our Pound in Town”. Come join us as our special sponsor Jeremy Pholwattana, creator and owner of Pit Bull Mate and a local Montclair businessman, gathers together Montclair vendors and friends to provide food, beverages, ice cream, balloons, children’s activities, a DJ, a band and so much more!” 

The MTAS is municipally run and governed by the Township of Montclair. It provides animal care and control for the townships of Montclair, Verona and Nutley. It takes in stray animals as well as pets whose owners are unable to keep them (only for residents of the above stated townships), and offer adoption services for those pets. 

For further information on the fundraising event, contact jeremy@pitbullmate.com

The cause of the blaze is currently under investigation.