DEVASTATED Sophie Judge has told of the moment she discovered one of her beloved pet dogs had died in a fire at her home.
Sophie was out when her house in Heather Close, Bridgemary, caught fire with her three pets – Zipper, Lilly and Missy – inside.
One of the dogs, Lilly, had fled the blaze but Zipper, a shih-tzu cross, died in the house and Missy was left unconscious.
Sophie, 44, said: ‘I was out when the fire started and it was my neighbours who called the emergency services.
‘When I returned, I saw the whole road was closed and there were fire engines and police cars outside the house.’
Firefighters broke into the house and found the dogs unconscious.
They spent around an hour trying to revive them and Missy began to recover.
Lilly and Missy were taken to the vets.
Sophie, who lives with husband Rob and daughter Ellie, 18, thanked the emergency services.
‘The police were good at keeping me calm and helping me through what was happening,’ she said. ‘And the firefighters tried so hard with the dogs. They were amazing.
‘They worked tirelessly on both dogs but were sadly unable to save Zipper.
‘The firemen see value in all life.
‘They treated the dogs with respect and kindness and me with great empathy. I can’t thank them enough for all they did to save my home and my beloved dogs. I have nothing but praise for them.’
The fire started in the kitchen at 5pm on Monday.
Most of the house was left smoke-damaged.
The family had only moved back in three weeks ago after refurbishing their home.
Crew manager Allan Cole from Fareham fire station, who co-ordinated the fire service’s response, said firefighters knew there were animals inside the building before they entered.
‘The house was smoke-damaged,’ he said. ‘If doors inside the house are left closed, less damage will be caused.’
The fire is thought to have been started by an electrical fault in the fridge or freezer.
Beloved family pet
SOPHIE Judge has paid tribute to the pet who she lost in the fire.
‘We got Zipper at eight weeks old – he was a tiny puppy,’ she said. ‘My son was desperate for a dog for years but we waited until we could commit to the love, care and time one needs eventually getting Zipper when my son was 12.
‘He loved people and he was always excited to see our family and friends, and loved nothing more than for someone to fuss him and to share some love.
‘He was good with children and would happily perform tricks to entertain them, run around playing ball with them or simply cuddle up.
‘Zipper loved his tennis ball on walks, and playing fetch was his idea of heaven.’