Sandy Pfohl, who owns Lakeview Animal Sanctuary on Fiegle Road, Pendleton, has been rescuing animals since she was a child.
But after two fires in two months, one of which destroyed her barn and killed more than 80 animals, the licensed wildlife rehabilitator is looking for the community to come to her rescue.
With a big assist from Parco Builders, Pfohl and her friends are putting up the shell of a new 100-by-32-foot barn to replace the one that was destroyed. They still need to raise $100,000 to finish the inside of the barn with stalls. So far they have raised a little above $30,000 with auctions and fundraisers.
“I was insured for about $36,000, and they used that to put up the barn, but a normal barn that size would cost twice that much,” Pfohl said.
The fast-moving fire destroyed the Fiegle Road animal sanctuary barn on Sept. 11. Pfohl said she and sanctuary Vice President Donna Boskat; Boskat’s husband, Ray; and employee Peter Marko attempted to pull out as many animals as they could. Pfohl said she had to be pulled out herself with her hair partially on fire, refusing to stop and come out.
“The barn went down in 10 minutes. I never gave a thought as to how dangerous the fire was. I had to get the animals out and open the cages. I got [the turkey] Thomas T. Butterball out, the horses out,” she said.
She said she lost 83 animals, including lambs, goats, some sheep and an alpaca in the fire.
“I watched a llama come out, then just lay down and die in front of me,” she said.
Also lost was a lamb called F.W. Woolworth that was featured on some of their T-shirts and a lamb named Oreo that was featured in their name the lamb contest .
“They all had personalities, and I loved every one of them. And every one of them was a rescue,” Pfohl said. “A lot of times I feel like I have let them down because I couldn’t get them out.”
Pfohl said she has been rescuing animals for as long as she can remember.
“It’s no moneymaker. I go all over Niagara and Erie County and don’t ask anyone for money, not a penny to pick animals up. I have rescued an alligator in Niagara Falls, and this past summer I was called to pick up 11 skunks in a guy’s backyard, and he gave me a $25 donation, that didn’t even cover my gas, but I couldn’t not do it,” Pfohl said.
And she also can’t stop now, which is why she needs to rebuild her barn.
She said investigators believe that an animal may have chewed through a wire, which caused a spark when they turned the lights on and started smoldering in the straw. The fire then took off when the fans were turned on to remove what they thought was dust, but was actually smoke.
Then, on Nov. 17, as she drove some of her remaining animals to participate in a petting zoo at a rescue/adoption event in Blasdell, her 1999 Chevy Blazer caught fire. Though no animals were lost, her vehicle was destroyed, and hundreds of dollars worth of donated gift cards meant to help her get back on her feet went up in the fire.
She also lost her appointment book and has been asking anyone who has asked her to appear to contact her and confirm her attendance at upcoming events.
The calls for help have been heeded.
Junior Girl Scout Troop Co-Leader Lisa A. Capell said the girls, ages 10 and 11, jumped at the chance to pitch in.
“They love animals in general and have volunteered at Lakeview in the past. She’s such a nice lady and made such and impression on the girls,” Capell said. “She has all of these animals. She actually brought Tom the turkey, who walked up to each girl, and a few owls to our meeting.”
She said the girls and co-leader Barb Faller, held an event Dec. 1 at Skateland in Lockport, which helped to raise $448 in donations, as well as gift cards and filled up bins with hundreds of donated items, including animal feed, cleaning detergent and sheets and towels.
“It was a phenomenal event. The girls really worked hard,” Capell said.
But Pfohl said much more needs to be done. “We are going to need a lot of help out here, especially after the first of the year,” she said.
Anyone who would like to donate or volunteer can contact the board on the group’s website at www.lakeviewanimalsanctuary.org or the Lakeview Animal Sanctuary facebook site.