SOUTHINGTON - At Mondayâ€™s Town Council Meeting, resident Michelle Terninko thanked â€ślocal heroâ€ť Dave Bottaro and the Southington, Bristol and Plainville fire departments for their efforts to rescue her pets when her home caught fire June 29.
The fire that destroyed the house at 54 Pattonwood Drive claimed the lives of Terninkoâ€™s dog, Ollie, and her motherâ€™s cat, George.
However, thanks to Bottaroâ€™s efforts, Izzy, a 5-year-old rescue dog, was saved from the burning home.
As Terninko approached the podium, one of her friends stood behind her holding the dog.
Terninko said that George and Ollie were â€śnot just a dogâ€ť and â€śnot just a catâ€ť but beloved family members.
Terninko said that she has fostered many animals, many of which came from abusive homes, and volunteered at numerous shelters.
She said that she wished to honor the memory of her pets, celebrate the bravery of those who fought the fire and highlight the importance of adopting animals from local shelters as well as donating to shelters.
â€śOn the day of the fire I was on my way to a Yankees-Red Sox game when I got the call from a friend who was alerted to the house fire by a family member,â€ť Terninko said.
â€śI was in shock as I knew the house was in flames and the two dogs and one cat were inside. I heard varying information to their safety. On the way home I learned that George and Ollie had died but that Izzy had been rescued and was receiving emergency treatment.â€ť
Terninko said that she experienced â€śpure terrorâ€ť and â€śinformation overload.â€ť
â€śI felt helpless - miles away in a car in massive traffic, unable to see what was happening or to be there to help my animals,â€ť she said. â€śThe Southington Police Department and AMR ambulance worked tirelessly to try to revive Ollie, who was found and rushed outside but did not survive.â€ť
Terninko said that she later learned that Bottaro had seen the smoke while driving by the house and stopped by to help along with two other neighbors.
They had heard the dogs barking inside and found an open back door.
â€śThe smoke was thick and he crawled on his hands and knees trying to find the animals,â€ť she said.
â€śHe tried to re-enter the home but the flames and smoke prevented him from searching for the other animals. Every day I look at Izzy and know she is a true miracle.â€ť
Bottaro was given a citation at the meeting for his heroism and a hug from Terninko.
The council also recognized the Southington Fire Department, the Bristol, Plainville and New Britain Fire Department and the AMR Ambulance.
The Terninko family used a portion of the donations created for the family in a Go Fund Me account to benefit charities and the local community.
She donated a portion to a charity of Bottaroâ€™s choice; the Visiting Nurse Foundation of Florida.
A donation of pet oxygen masks and money to support pet oxygen mask training was made to the Southington Fire Department.
A donation was also made to the Southington Animal Control in memory of Terninkoâ€™s deceased pets.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.