(KATV) A Pulaski County family feels lucky to have escaped a fire that consumed their home, but they can't say the same for their champion dogs. Pulaski County Sheriff's deputies are investigating the fire as arson. The house is in a secluded community off Colonel Glenn road.
The family of five truly believes Channel Seven could have been doing a story on their murder if their son did not startle the intruder. If you are a dog lover, this will be hard to hear.
The Foley family hasn't had time to change clothes or wash the soot of their face and hands. They're still in shock, in disbelief over what happened at about 1:30 a.m. Friday morning.
Justin Kasal is Jeff Foley's step son. Justin says, "I was sleeping in the living room and woke up to something splashing in the kitchen. I got up and looked into the kitchen and I saw someone leaving the house and then a huge explosion so I ran upstairs and got my family out of the house."
The flames swallowed the kitchen where the families champion English Bulldogs slept. They range in age from 4-months to 9 years old. The family used a water hose to slow the flames and help the injured dogs before emergency crew arrived.
Justin recalls, "They were making the worst sound ever, I couldn't imagine being burned."
Justin says the gas was deliberately poured on the dogs; some were trapped in their crates.
If it wasn't for Justin getting up and surprising the intruder, he believes his family was next. He says, "They had quite a bit of gas left in that can and they were probably going to do more damage." He says the reason they moved to this secluded area was for the dogs to roam the large property line and the safety of a gated community.
Justin adds, "They're just a real big part of our family." Now seven (out of 8) dogs have severe burns, one is blind and three are fighting for their lives.
"I could have died. My family could have died. So yeah, I want him locked up for quite a long time," Justin concludes.
Justin feels confident he knows who the suspect is. The family even has a likely motive in mind. Investigators haven't made an arrest, they want to have all the facts and evidence before confirming the family's suspicions. Deputies have a lot to sift through to look for evidence. They did find a gas can outside the kitchen door.
The suspect is described as a man about 6 feet tall and 200 pounds. The house damage estimate is at about $15,000 right now.
The vet plans to put two of the dogs down Friday afternoon. The Foley's say it has only been one day and the vet bill is already more than $5,000. The dogs are at the Doubletree Veterinary Clinic in Little Rock on the Ferndale Cut Off. The number is (501) 821-1880 if you want to make a donation.