A rescuer’s house has gone up in flames, firefighters save 36 animals


MANORVILLE, NY – A woman who has devoted her life to saving wildlife saw her home burn down last month – and now needs help rebuilding after a fire that left her, her family and 36 animals homeless .

The fire that turned her world upside down started at 1:30 p.m. on May 16 at her Manorville home, said Carly Sallee, who works at the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Center in Hampton Bays.

Describing that terrible night, she said, “My husband smelled smoke, and then he, my son and I saw the garage was on fire. We grabbed our two dogs and ran out of the house in our pajamas and barefoot – with no time trying to save the 36 animals that were in them. “

Sallee said they called the fire department and “waited for them while they watched our house go up in flames. I was scared to death thinking all my babies were inside!”

Fortunately, Sallee said, her old friend Bob Baylis, a Manorville firefighter, was there and knew she was on a rehab with lots of animals inside.

“The firefighters were amazing, asking me what kind of animals were there and how many. They immediately brought in commercial fans and were able to keep the smoke in the basement at bay while they carried the overhead incubators safely out of the house. One firefighter even had a blind squirrel in a cat stretcher that he could grab. There were cats, ferrets, flying squirrels, east gray squirrels, rabbits, mice, rats, hamsters and raccoons. Fortunately all animals were alive. “

Carly Sallee has dedicated her life to saving animals. / Courtesy Carly Sallee

Sallee began volunteering at the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Center in 2013 to help tackle the abundance of orphaned newborn mammals. “My heart has always been with orphaned babies and I have cared for them in my home for over 35 years,” she said.

Sallee and her family lived in their Manorville home for 15 years before the fire.

“My basement was a separate nature reserve where I could take care of my newborn babies,” she said.

However, her home has now been sentenced. She can no longer keep her animals there – and most of them have been taken in by staff at the wildlife center or are actually staying in the rescue.

All but the cats she captured and neutered and who they couldn’t release in one location in Riverhead for fear they might be poisoned, Sallee said.

“You now live outside with the covered porch as a shelter. I also have some blind cats that I adopted from the Brookhaven Animal Shelter around Christmas time years ago to give them a better home than the little cage they were doomed to – but, unfortunately, now they live in a pen that was built to rehabilitate raccoons. “

Except for the cats that are outside, all other animals are in the houses or in the rescue. She and her husband go to their fire-damaged home three times a day to make sure the remaining free range animals are fed, have fresh water, and are treated for fleas and ticks, “and are simply loved,” she said. “It breaks my heart that I can’t be there for you, but you are in good hands.”

Sallee, who traveled to Niagara Falls in 2014 to take a course to later obtain her rabies carrier license, was outraged when a Brookhaven Town animal welfare officer contacted her about a complaint about “abandoned animals” in her home .

“I was scared and horrified!” She said. How could anyone think I was neglecting them? Every one of my neighbors knows me and knows that I am there every day. You know I have dedicated my life to saving animals. I would never abandon an animal. I just wish the person who made the complaint took the time to ask my neighbors. I’ve been around; it would have saved a lot of pain and grief. Fortunately, the officer who came into the house knew everything was taken care of and the case was immediately closed. “

There are other hurdles to overcome, including the fact that it can take up to a year for her home to become habitable again, Sallee said. To this end, her colleagues at the rescue launched a GoFundMe page entitled “Help Carly and Her Family After a Devastating Fire”.

“Our lovely friend, mentor, and associate, Carly, who dedicated her life to saving all creatures big and small, wild and domestic, lost the home her family worked so hard on,” the site says. “From the memories with her children and grandchildren, to the custom-made nurseries for baby wild animals, to the amazing cat breeding for neglected, often sick kittens that she and her husband designed and created with their own resources, the house is sorely missed, but by them Grace of God and the quick action of the family, no person or animal was hurt. “

Carly not only works at home with her animals, but also at the non-profit Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center to rescue sick, injured and orphaned wild animals day and night, according to the site.

“Please help us to support this great woman who, in this difficult time, always speaks for those who have no voice. At the moment the family has lost their vehicles and the urgent need is for a car that we have just learned is not covered by insurance. Carly will continue her life mission for these animals – her first thought shortly after this devastating fire – and this time she needs our help. “

To donate, click here.

“People said I gave my whole life, but isn’t that what it is?” asked Sallee. “There are so many people out there who give every day and I am blessed to know you. Those who took my animals into their homes, your generous gifts, love and support. And special thanks to my daughters and families who did it and welcomed us to their homes because we had nowhere to go. “

Sallee also thanked her daughter Heather, who took responsibility for rebuilding her life, spoke to the insurance company, met people at our home, “did endless phone calls and paperwork, didn’t even complain, but accepted the task wholeheartedly. Me can “Never tell yourself how much I love you and how proud I am to have you as a daughter.”

To the community she said: “You all have a special place in my heart.”

She added, “All of my neighbors, all of my friends and people I don’t even know have contacted me and I’m so grateful for that. There are really many great people in this world. “


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