Fire damages Angell Memorial animal hospital

March 7, 2008
By

JOHN RUCH

S.HUNTINGTON AVE.—All animals were safe—though many historical documents were lost—following a fire Monday evening at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell Animal Medical Center (MSPCA-Angell).

A small fire caused by an electrical problem broke out around 6 p.m. on the fifth floor of the MSPCA-Angell animal hospital and shelter complex at 350 S. Huntington Ave. Boston firefighters quickly got the blaze under control.

“At no time were the animals in any danger,” said MSPCA-Angell spokesperson Brian Adams.

“It is horrible having the history destroyed or compromised,” he said. “The most important part is that the staff and animals were safe.”

The fire was in one of two rooms that make up the small fifth floor of the older brick building fronting on S. Huntington. All animal services are in an addition that opened two years ago. Adams noted that the location of the fire happened to be as far as possible from the animal services.

“There wasn’t even a whiff of smoke in that area [where animals are cared for],” Adams said.

Only one animal was formally evacuated: a dog that was undergoing an MRI scan and had been sedated. It was wheeled outside with an oxygen mask and doctors in attendance.

The room where the fire started contained historic archives of MSPCA-Angell, which is the country’s second-oldest animal humane society. Some documents survived, but the losses include archival material going back to the organization’s 1868 founding.

Adams said the archives include paintings and films along with more typical documents. A first edition of the famous horse novel “Black Beauty” survived. An 1879 scrapbook compiled by MSPCA founder George Angell escaped with singe marks.

But many early journals and publications, as well as 20th century films of MSPCA events, were lost. Many more surviving documents were water-damaged.

Damages were estimated at $25,000, but “a lot of the documents are irreplaceable,” Adams said. MSPCA-Angell officials are compiling an inventory of what was lost in the blaze. They would also welcome volunteer assistance from experts in restoring and preserving historic documents, Adams said.

MSPCA-Angell is headquartered at the S. Huntington complex. It operates another animal hospital on Nantucket and various shelters statewide. A nonprofit organization, it has begun a fund-raising campaign to cover any fire-related expenses.

For more information, see www.mspca.org.