Couple loses new Potsdam home and pet dog in Friday night fire

Oct. 31—POTSDAM — A couple lost their dog when their 7 Broad St. home burned on Friday evening.

Antoinette M. Butler said she and her boyfriend, Paul Bellino, were moving their things from an apartment just down the road to their new home. A GoFundMe has been set up to help them with veterinary expenses they incurred trying to save their beloved companion.

"We just closed on this house the other week. We were in the process of moving in. Our previous apartment was only a half mile up the road. We were dropping off boxes in the kitchen and we left to grab the last of our stuff for the night from our old place and lock up. We couldn't have been gone longer than 10 minutes," Ms. Butler said.

She said when they returned to the burning building, they found their dog Nutmeg, a 2-year-old mastiff who weighed about 120 pounds, passed out by the back door with the flames "maybe a foot away from her." The dog was covered in second- and third-degree burns, including on her tongue, Ms. Butler said.

"My boyfriend managed to pull her out and we started giving her mouth-to-snout to try and wake her up but we needed to move because the fire was engulfing quickly," Ms. Butler said. "We were screaming for help and I was calling 911 and luckily a kind stranger who was walking down the street ran up and helped us carry her down from the deck to our backyard. The firemen and first responders got there very quickly. One officer found us in the backyard and kicked down part of the fence to get to us."

She said first responders put an oxygen mask on Nutmeg, which brought her back to consciousness.

"When she came to she started to become very scared and reactive. She tried to bite anyone who came near her, luckily no one was hurt, and luckily someone got us a makeshift leash. After that we took her to Canton Animal Clinic but they could not help us because they did not have an oxygen tank big enough, thus why we drove to Burlington," she said.

Ms. Butler said they drove Nutmeg to Burlington Emergency and Veterinary Specialists, BEVS, where they decided to have their dog euthanized because of the severity of her injuries.

"We had to make the call to let Nutmeg go on Saturday night. Her kidneys were failing as well as her lungs," Ms. Butler said. "Everyone at BEVS was amazing and we are so grateful for everything they tried to do for us."

She said some friends of theirs had been a big help getting Nutmeg from Potsdam to the Canton Animal Clinic and from there to Burlington.

"We have some amazing friends from the dog park we took Nutmeg to regularly that really came through for us. They brought supplies for Nutmeg and blankets when it was going on. They got us in at Canton Animal since we were not members. And they even called BEVS for us ahead of time to let them know we were coming with Nutmeg and her condition. They even grabbed us dinner before we started driving," she said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, according to the Potsdam Fire Department.

Ms. Butler said the next steps are resolving insurance issues and seeing which of their belongings they can get back. The GoFundMe to help Ms. Butler and Mr. Bellino pay their vet bills from trying to save Nutmeg is at gofund.me/4df82747.