MUSKEGON, Mich. — Families and community members mourned the loss of 30 dogs at a memorial service after a western Michigan kennel was engulfed in flames.

Clock Funeral Home in Muskegon held the service Thursday to honor the pets that died in the fire at Storm’s Ahead Kennels in Fruitport Township. The kennel was full when the fire occurred March 30, the first day of spring break for many local families.

“We’ve received support from friends and family over the whole process,” said Nick Buckner, who lost his 11-month-old puppy Remington. “It’s how we ended our spring break trip, so that was difficult, but it was an accident. So we try to understand that and take things as it comes.”

Kennel owner Janet Rehfus said during the service that there aren’t enough words for how bad she feels.

“That Friday morning making the phone calls to each and every one of you, certainly a nightmare that I never imagined that I would have to do,” she said.

Firefighters couldn’t recue the dogs from the kennel, which was already covered in flames when they arrived. Authorities determined the fire was an accident, but haven’t yet identified the cause.

Rehfus shared anecdotes about the dogs playing together and needing coaxing to return indoors.

“They’re now with their friends,” Funeral Director Jodi Clock told the grieving families. “They were with their friends when this happened and they are with their friends now.”

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