Share this article

print logo

Dogs find a happy home; Firefighter and family make room in their lives for three canines who lost their owner after he fell through ice into Hyde Park Lake

A Niagara Falls firefighter is coming to the rescue of three golden retrievers who lost their owner, Pascal "Pat" Scrufari, Wednesday when he fell through the ice on Hyde Park Lake in Niagara Falls and later died trying to rescue one of the canines.

Frank Cacciatore, 45, a 12-year veteran of the Niagara Falls Fire Department, said Monday that Chloe, Zach and Sheeba were welcomed into his family's home after he received a call Friday from the SPCA of Niagara.

"We had four children and one dog. Now, we have four and four," Cacciatore said. "Each of [the kids] has a dog."

And the dogs are getting plenty of love.

"[My son] Christopher has really taken to Zach -- it's his boy," he said.

Cacciatore, of Niagara Falls Fire's Truck 1, was on the initial rescue call for Scrufari.

He provided support and was not active in the actual rescue.

When one of Scrufari's dogs darted onto the icy lake Wednesday afternoon, the 70-year-old man went after it. That's when he fell through into the water.

Two nearby witnesses saw the incident and called 911.

Rescue crews pulled Scrufari out, and he was rushed to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Cacciatore said he was talking about the incident with Christopher when the idea of adopting the dogs arose.

"I showed my son the picture [in the newspaper]. I was trying to teach my son about the dangers of ice," Cacciatore said, "and my son asked, 'What's going to happen to the dogs?' "

Cacciatore said his family had planned to get another dog. They inquired with officials from the SPCA of Niagara and were placed on a waiting list.

That call came Friday, when Cacciatore learned his name was first on the list of people who wished to adopt all three.

"They wanted them all together," Cacciatore said of SPCA officials, adding that the agency -- which has come under fire in recent weeks -- was top-notch in handling his situation. "They've really supported us."

He said the SPCA provided several weeks of dog food.

The dogs made a visit to the veterinarian Monday. Cacciatore said it's unclear whether all three are related, but they did discover Chloe is about 6 years old and had previously given birth to puppies.

Zach and Sheeba are estimated to be about 2, he said.

email: tpignataro@buffnews.com