Fire routs family home; husband injured trying to save dog
By Jeanne Sager
MOUNTAINDALE He knew the dog had already been through the indignity of abandonment once, and Butch Houghtaling wasn’t going to let Miranda be left behind in the flames of his house.
Friends say firefighters had to pull Houghtaling out of his burning home Friday night, telling him the animals inside simply could not be saved.
Houghtaling is now in Westchester Medical Center the burns to his trachea were severe.
Miranda, a dog left tied to the bumper of a car at the Sullivan County SPCA, is gone.
So too is the home Houghtaling shared with wife Audrey Steiger and their three children a four-year-old girl, five-year-old boy and eight-year-old girl.
Steiger, who works as assistant manager at the SPCA in Rock Hill, was fostering Miranda in hopes that her three kids could help bring the dog out of her shell and make her more adoptable. Each day, she and Houghtaling, who also works part-time at the shelter, would drive in to work with the dog in tow. Each night, they would bring her back to their home.
They had their own animals too one cat was saved along with a rabbit who later perished, overcome by the trauma of the fire.
In all, two dogs, three cats, a hamster, guinea pig and the rabbit were lost along with all of the family’s belongings.
School is about to start and none of the children have back-to-school supplies, not to mention clothes to wear there.
“They have done so much to help the homeless animals, now that they’re homeless it’s a cruel irony,” said SPCA Vice President Manon Fortier.
On behalf of the shelter, she’s organizing a drive to get the family back on their feet, accepting donations on behalf of Audrey Steiger sent to the SPCA’s mailing address, P.O. Box 995, Rock Hill, NY 12775.
They’re accepting donations too clothing for the kids, home furnishings.
They’re hoping to help the people who help the animals, Fortier said simply.
“They’re just tireless, both of them,” she explained. “Audrey, without her, I don’t know what we’d do. It gets crazy around the shelter, and she keeps her wits about her.
“They’re both part of our extended shelter family.”