Woodbine pays tribute to horses killed in barn fire in Puslinch, Ont.
Online fundraising campaign has raised more than $130,000 from around the world
The horse racing community gathered for an emotional tribute at Woodbine racetrack Thursday night to the horses that died in a barn fire in Puslinch, Ont., earlier this week.
The track dedicated the entire race card to the 43 animals that perished in the blaze. A video tribute was played shortly before 7 p.m.
Chantel Mitchell lost seven horses in the fire that ripped through Classy Lane Stables near Guelph, Ont., on Monday night.
She was overcome with emotion while watching the tribute.
"I'm not going to see them tomorrow morning," Mitchell told CBC News. "Every day I go to the barn and they are always there, and they're not there now."
Mitchell said she was in shock by the outpouring of support for those and others like her who lost animals and, in so many cases, their livelihoods.
"To me, it's my family that's gone. And it feels like there's a giant family out there supporting us. And I truly appreciate it."
'It's a terrible thing'
Jamie Millier co-owned the barn. He was in Florida at the time of the blaze.
He says he would have stayed down south if it had just been his building that burned down. But he came back due to the loss of the animals.
"To watch the people that were involved in it, it's a terrible thing. You feel so sorry and helpless and you know what those people are going through," Millier told CBC.
"If my barn had burned down, I'd still be in Florida. You can always replace something. But when the horses are involved and I know what it does to the grooms and trainers. It's just no good."
The Central Ontario Standardbred Association has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help all of those who lost their livelihoods with the loss of the horses.
So far, it has raised more than $130,000, with money pouring in from around the world.
"These people, they had a place to go every day to the barn," association president Bill O'Donnell told CBC on Thursday.
"Tuesday morning, they had no place else to go. It's devastating."
He's not surprised that the racing community has rallied to support friends and colleagues.
"I've seen it happen time after time again that they really come together in a crisis," he said.
The cause of the fire is not yet known. The Ontario Fire Marshal's investigation was expected to wrap up on Thursday, and a report is expected soon.