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"LIH" 2006 Obituary


LIHOU o@ca.on.grey_county.owen_sound.the_sun_times 2006-03-27 published
Fire just the start of family's string of bad luck
Thefts and loss of animals followed soon after fire left Park head family homeless
By Scott DUNN, Monday, March 27, 2006
Since a house fire on March 16 threatened Lee-Anne LIHOU's family's lives and left them homeless, bad luck has lingered like a dark cloud.
The fire claimed the lives of four animals: Peaches, a cat that ran back into the house despite the flames, turtles Timmy and Tammy and a dog named Prince, which had to be put down later.
The fire nearly claimed the family too, LIHOU said in an interview Monday.
But 14-year-old Cara spotted sparks about 1 a.m. The girl woke her parents and they followed their emergency escape plan. Part of that plan included grabbing the dogs, cats and birds and important papers, LIHOU said.
There was no smoke in the house at first. Within five minutes the fire had spread throughout the home. The phoneline was dead and the wired-in smoke detector didn't sound because the wires were burnt.
Their daughter tried to run back into the house for the turtles but her brother stopped her.
The fire looked like it started in the rafters around the chimney, and was difficult to fight because roof layers created spaces for the fire to creep, said Terry HUTCHINSON/HUTCHISON, acting emergency services manager with the South Bruce Peninsula Fire Department.
LIHOU thinks their house was about 140 years old. Insurance is expected to replace the house with a smaller one, she said.
But bad luck continued to haunt the family.
On March 20 someone complained to animal welfare officials about the temporary quarters the family set up for its dogs, cats and birds in two outbuildings.
There were five birds a cockatoo, two parakeets, a cockatiel and a budgie and a cat in a little insulated shed with a space heater. There were five dogs in an unheated but insulated garage, each in either a cage or partitioned kennel.
Neighbours were keeping an eye on the animals and so were the LIHOUes. But the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals concluded the living conditions either had to be improved or the animals would have to be moved.
Without alternative homes for all her pets, two dogs were adopted out and two more dogs and a cat need new homes now. LIHOU refuses to temporarily adopt out the animals, then take them back in six months when the new house should be built. That would be too stressful for the animals, she said.
Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals inspector Jennifer BLUHM said in an interview that the animal care concerns were valid but that the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was at the LIHOU home both to investigate a complaint and to help. She said the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offered to find a place for the animals to stay.
She didn't want to get into details and said she already regretted having to publicly refer to the animal care of the family.
LIHOU told her story between bursts of tears, with hope that someone will adopt Pepper, a border collie-Australian mixed breed, and Jeannie, a red and white border collie.
The cat, a grey calico named Chrissi, is staying with LIHOU's aunt in Kilsyth, until someone adopts him.
The family's troubles continued.
On Friday, someone stole her son's money while he was out of one of the two Owen Sound motel rooms where the family is living temporarily. He got upset and started yelling what had happened and someone called the police on him for causing a disturbance.
On Sunday, LIHOU's bag of belongings was stolen from the grocery store where she works. The bag contained a pen with great sentimental value.
LIHOU said her family will move into another house on April 1 where no pets are allowed in Park head until their new house is built.
Anyone wanting to adopt the dogs or cat can call LIHOU at 370-8518.

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