DUPLIN COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - An 11-year-old in Duplin County is turning a tragic situation into his calling.
Kaden Simpson couldn’t sit and watch as 12 animals suffered from serious burns after a house fire on Jackson Store Road outside of Beulaville Wednesday morning.
79-year-old Lon Record and five of his 19 cats and dogs died after a gas leak caused an explosion and a small house fire at the double-wide home around 11 a.m. Wednesday. A dozen animals were taken to an emergency animal clinic in Wilmington. Six are in critical condition, and two are still missing, according to Duplin County Animal Services.
“They need help. Right away,” Kaden said. “Because first of all, they’re cute. And, second of all, they’re adorable.”
Kaden set up a GoFundMe page to help offset the cost for the medical attention the 12 animals needed.
“I’ve been doing it for the past two years so I said why not do it again?” Kaden said.
Every year, Kaden donates his birthday money to the Duplin County Animal Shelter. He estimates he’s donated over $1,000 to the shelter.
When Kaden found out about the five pets that died, Kaden said he was incredibly upset. But, he couldn’t sit by and wonder if the 12 others would meet the same fate.
“He has autism. So, he feels and thinks different than everyone else does,” said Kaden’s mom, Jessica Daughtry. “So I think it just like touches his heart.”
It’s a huge help to the shelter, according to Duplin County Animal Shelter Supervisor Joe Newburn.
“I’ve actually seen a lot more animals in a home than this that we’ve had to deal with,” said Newburn. “We are a small animal shelter and that’s one of our biggest issues is the housing of the animals. Where are we going to put the animals? We try to get volunteers out there to foster the animals until we can find them definite homes.”
Kaden’s home is already filled with pets of his own. The family has already rescued two dogs and three cats. Taking in any more would seem impossible. But, it’s not out of the question.
“I haven’t really talked to Kaden about him passing away yet because I just recently found out myself too,” said Daughtry. “I know that it’s going to hurt him, and I know the animals are going to need even more help now because they don’t have a place to go back to. So, I guess it’s just something we do.”