How to help Sweetpea and other no-kill shelters

In the evening hours of Sunday, Nov. 22, firefighters battled flames and struggled to rescue the dogs and cats housed at Sweetpea Friends of Rutland Animals Inc., a no-kill shelter in Paxton, Mass. Sadly, most of the animals perished in the fast-moving fire that completely destroyed the facility.

Just four dogs and one cat survived the fire; all are recovering at veterinary care centers in and around Boston.

Response to the tragedy by the pet community has been swift: donations of pet food and supplies, from toys to computer equipment, are coming in, and a GoFundMe page has raised more than $80,000.

The Sweetpea fire has called attention to the good that no-kill shelters do: many of the dogs housed there had been at the shelter for years as the nonprofit worked to adopt them out when possible. However, it also highlighted the struggle for resources faced by many shelters.

If you want to help Sweetpea directly, a fundraising effort is ongoing. Local residents near Paxton can also donate items directly as the shelter shifts to a recovery and rebuilding effort.

Visit Sweetpea’s Facebook page for updates.

Donate at this GoFundMe page.

While tragic, the Sweetpea fire has called attention to the ongoing needs of no-kill shelters across the country. The holiday season is also just beginning — a time when people think more often of those in need. If you can’t donate monetarily to help Sweetpea and live too far away, instead contact a shelter near to you to find out if you can donate any items to them, or volunteer your time to help clean cages and care for the animals. maintains a database of nonprofit shelters searchable by city and state. You can also check your local newspaper or city website for information on local shelters.