Twelve dogs were found dead inside a Long Island garage after firefighters put out a fire there Friday afternoon, authorities say.
Crews responded to a call at 101 Hillside Ave. in Freeport at about 2 p.m., according to the Freeport Fire Department. After putting out a blaze at the home's one-car detached garage, firefighters discovered the carcasses of the dogs.
Two other dogs had been found alive when firefighters first responded and were rescued, officials say.
Orlando Howard said he lives in the home and was inside when he saw flames shooting through the roof of the garage. He said the owner of the dogs, a friend who lives with him in the house, ran from the basement into the garage to try to save the dogs.
"I actually didn't even know he had so many, he's so private and personal," said Howard. "The dogs were kept in the garage."
It's not clear if Howard and the dogs' owner were living there legally. Newsday reports that public records list Fernando Cruz as a co-owner of the home and when reached by telephone, Cruz said he now lives in Texas and that the house is supposed to be unoccupied.
Investigators are looking into a cause of the fire. More than 100 firefighters responded to the scene, the fire department says. No one was injured.
Neighbors say they had no idea there were dogs living there. Bernard Patrick said he never saw the animals and never heard any barking.
"It's a tragedy," said Marc Johnson. "Those dogs could have had homes instead of losing their lives."
Howard claimed he "wasn't quite sure" why his friend had so many dogs.
"I believe he makes puppies and sells them, I'm not quite sure," he said. "I just know they're not fighting. He'd never have them fighting around the house."