Puppy power, personal disaster assistance, and the Canadian Red Cross

By: Michelle Palansky, Canadian Red Cross communications advisor

“Smoke was billowing down the hallway from the girls’ room. My fiancée went to open the door, but I stopped him. I was worried about the backdraft.”
Katlin St. Germain knows a thing or two about fires. As does the rest of her family. Katlin and both of her parents serve on the St. Rose du Lac Fire Department. A small town, with a population just over 2,000, St. Rose du Lac is 300 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.
Katlin's dog with her litter of puppiesIt was midnight on November 10, 2020. An already eventful evening, one of their three dogs was having puppies, 11 puppies.
Excited by all the action, Katlin’s two young daughters, who would have normally been asleep in their own bedroom, had been up and about and were sleeping in their mom’s bed. That likely saved their lives.
The fire started from an old electric outlet in the girls’ bedroom. The smoke from the fire set off the fire alarm. Katlin and her fiancée got the girls, two cats, three dogs, and all 11 puppies out of the house and into their truck.
While her best friend sat in the truck with the girls, and as they waited for the fire department to show up, Katlin’s mom and dad arrived on the scene.
In another fortunate stroke, Katlin had recently been cleaning out one of her rooms and had a memory box for her daughters set aside. Using his firefighter training, Katlin’s dad retrieved the memory box and then they all waited for the fire department to arrive.
After the fire was suppressed and the house was assessed, it was clear that keeping the door closed helped contain the fire and significantly reduced the damage.
A mixture of luck and training helped Katlin St. Germain’s family weather this personal disaster, along with some help from the Canadian Red Cross.
One month previous, one of Katlin’s colleagues had also experienced a house fire. The colleague told Katlin that she could reach out to the Red Cross if she needed help.
With the help of the Red Cross, Katlin was able to replace her daughters’ clothing, which was ruined in the fire. She was provided food and gas money to get her family through the first challenging days of recovery.
“A weight lifted off our shoulders. A worry covered. Something we didn’t have to worry about,” explained Kaitlin, regarding the Red Cross support.
The family is doing well now and there are only five puppies left to find their forever homes.
If you are experiencing a personal disaster and require assistance, contact the Canadian Red Cross at 1-888-800-6493.

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