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A tight knit group of volunteers is looking for answers and help after fire devastated the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter and killed three dozen pets.

"It's basically like walking up to a family's house and seeing it burned down," said volunteer Brandi White.

Thirty-four cats, at least one dog, and a guinea pig all died inside the shelter late Friday night.

White, who volunteers at the shelter nearly every day, said she came running when she heard the news. She said she was worried for all of the animals but especially for Bugsy, an older basset hound.

"I didn't think him, being a slow kind of breed of dog, that he would get out of the fire fast enough," she said. "During the fire he was hiding in the woods. He wouldn't come out for anyone else, but when he saw me he came out of the woods and was wagging his tail."

White said she knew she had to take Bugsy home for good. She said he hasn't let her out of his sight since.

"He's definitely been very clingy," she said.

Bugsy was one of 26 pets who survived the fire.

"The firefighters when they saw the building was on fire they immediately started releasing the dogs through doggie doors that connect the inside to the outside The dogs ran out and we have been capturing them," said Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter spokesperson, Theresa Martin.

But the firefighters could not get to the interior room where the cats were housed in time. Of the 37 cats that lived in the shelter, only three survived.

"Everything was burned: leashes, beds, kennels, it's all gone. We have to start completely from scratch," said Martin.

Martin added the shelter has insurance, but it will not cover all the costs.

"We're trying to take this disaster and do everything we can to turn it into something good," she said.

Rescue groups, including Wagging Hearts out of Chicago, the Lexington Humane Society, and the Hope for Animals Rescue Team helped to find all of the animals a safe place to stay.

As investigators look for answers, White said she's going to make sure to spoil Bugsy as much as she can.

"He's getting belly rubs and treats," she said.

The Knox-Whitley County Animal Shelter is looking to borrow or lease a temporary building for three to six months to house new dogs and cats that get brought in. Martin said the ideal building would be at least 1500 square feet with electricity, water, heat, and located in Knox (Ky.) or Whitley counties. Anyone with information on a possible building is asked to contact Chuck Ledford at 606-627-9477.

More information can be found on the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter Facebook page.

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