SUBANG JAYA, Feb 8 — As the fire swept through the house in USJ2 Subang Jaya that claimed the lives of four family members, their two dogs miraculously survived — proving that perhaps not just cats have nine lives.
The two female dogs — an eight-year-old Labrador named Amber, and four-year-old Pinscher called Sugar — were trapped in the inferno in the early hours of Monday morning.
Fire fighters found Sugar in the living room when they entered the house after bringing the fire under control while Amber was found some four hours later stuck behind a grille by a neighbour, Wong Wern Chin, 21.
The dogs owners’ property agent, Lim Ah Kok, 58, his wife Goh Bee Khim, 52, and their sons, Yong Liang, 20, and Yong Wei, 17, are believed to have died of smoke inhalation on the upper floor of the house.
The family’s only daughter, Yi Jun, 23, was at her university’s hostel in Taman Connaught, Cheras, at the time of the incident.
The fortunate canines were found with burns on their body and paws, and were still feeling the effects of breathing in the acrid smoke when Malay Mail visited them yesterday.
Sugar was sent to the Subang Animal Clinic, while Amber was with Wern Chin, who is taking care of the two pets.
“Sugar was coughing a lot last night and into the morning after inhaling ash and smoke,” said the music student.
She brought both pets to the veterinarian yesterday morning, where it was decided the Pinscher needed to be admitted for further checks, while the Labrador was healing well.
“Both of them slept a lot on Monday night, getting the rest they needed. “Amber responded better than Sugar in the morning. We knew Sugar was unwell and needed more treatment,” she said
Wern Chin, who has two dogs, a Poodle and a mixed-breed Golden Retriever, said she also took care of the dogs whenever the Lims went to their hometown in Penang.
“The pets are comfortable with me so it made it easier for me to calm Amber down when I went looking for her on Monday,”she said.
Wern Chin went in the burnt home to look for Amber, after firemen had found the terrified Sugar in the living room moments earlier.
“The firemen could not find Amber, so I got permission from Lim’s relatives and the firemen to go look for her.
“I found her trapped, scared and burnt, sitting behind a grille at the rear of the home,” she said.
Wern Chin managed to coax the Labrador out and immediately took both pets to the vet to get them checked and have their wounds treated.
She said the doctor told them the dogs’ body temperature would be high for several days, after the long exposure to high heat from the flames.
“Amber and Sugar suffered burns to their paws and both of them are constantly coughing now after their lungs were damaged from breathing in the thick smoke and carbon residue from the fire,” she said.
Wern Chin, who has been staying here since her childhood days, said the Lims considered the dogs part of the family and always treated them well.
She said her family and the Lims were very close and often visited each other.
“We had met a day before the incident. They came over to our house to wish us a happy Chinese New Year,” said Wern Chin, pointing out that Lim was a respected member of the community who was active in the night watch.
Describing Yi Jun as a quiet and studious girl, Wern Chin said her heart went out to her.
“I am very sad for Yi Jun. She lost her family. But she has a very supportive extended family and I believe they will help her through these hard times.”
She said Yi Jun and her relatives would take the dogs after the funeral, which was expected to be on Friday in Butterworth, Penang. Yesterday, burnt joss sticks and other offerings were placed in front of the Lim’s home by friends and family members, as fire and rescue forensic personnel continued investigations at the scene.
Selangor Fire and Rescue Department Deputy Director of Operations Sani Harul said the fire was believed to have started from an electrical short circuit.
The department was alerted at 5.34am and the family was believed to have been asleep when the fire broke out.