GREENBURGH, N.Y. Sixteen dogs, including eight puppies, were killed in a fire in Greenburgh Wednesday morning when the backyard shed where they were caged went up in flames. The fire may have been caused by a faulty heater.
Police stopped short of calling the shed owner, Ross Taylor, an illegal breeder, but the dogs - Italian Bull Mastiff dogs of Cane Corso breed -- were all in cages and Taylor had been cited before for illegal breeding.
"It's unfortunate," said Greenburgh Police Chief Joseph DeCarlo. "That many dogs. It's sad."
The Westchester County Fire Cause of Origin Team found the fire was likely to have been caused by one of several of the heat lamps and space heaters that were kept in the shed.
"The actual fire does not seem suspicious," said DeCarlo.
Eight of the dogs were puppies, while the other eight were between the ages of five months and seven years.
Just before 7 a.m., the Greenburgh Police Department received two phone calls about a fire on North Lawrence Avenue. The Elmsford Fire Department arrived on the scene to extinguish a substantial fire consuming a wooden shed.
While police are not calling Taylor, 46, a dog breeder, DeCarlo said it is part of their investigation to find out the reason for keeping 16 dogs seemingly of the same breed. They will also work in conjunction with the Greenburgh Building Department to address any law violations at play.
On Oct. 30, 2006, the Greenburgh Building Department responded to an anonymous complaint at Taylor's address. Taylor was written a violation notice for illegal breeding in a residential area, said John Lucido, Greenburgh's building inspector. On Dec. 18, 2006, the building department returned to the address to find no dogs. No complaints have been filed since October 2006.
Taylor could not be reached for comment. The fire is currently under investigation by the Greenburgh Police Department and no charges have been filed against Taylor.
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