PAXTON, MASS. >> Dozens of cats and dogs have perished in a fire at a central Massachusetts animal shelter.
Staffers at the Sweetpea Friends of Rutland Animals Inc. in Paxton say 17 dogs and 39 cats are thought to have died in the blaze that broke late Sunday night.
At least five dogs were rescued.
Paxton Fire Chief Jay Conte says the building was a total loss. The shelter has another building that was untouched.
Firefighters from Holden, Leicester, Spencer, Rutland and Oakham assisted at the scene.
The cause remains under investigation.
Sweetpea is described on its website as a nonprofit, no-kill animal welfare organization founded in 2000.