July 24, 2016

Mostly clear

Boy gives pet to woman who lost her dogs in fire

Janice Pierce, 58, cuddles her new dog, Paco. Connor Handy, 5, right, offered Pierce his 3-year-old Chihuahua after she lost her two Chihuahuas in a fire Nov. 14 at Nottingham Court in Medina. (LOREN GENSON / GAZETTE)

MEDINA — When 5-year-old Connor Handy learned that his grandmother’s friend had lost both of her dogs in a fire, he had an idea.

“Maybe she needs my Heino,” he told his father.

Chris Handy knew firsthand about the fire because his mother, Margaret Handy, lived at Nottingham Court. He had rushed there as soon as he heard about the Nov. 14 fire at the senior community apartment complex on the city’s north side.

His mother was all right, but the apartment of her friend, Janice Pierce, 58, was gutted and her two Chihuahuas, Timmy and Gracie, were dead.

The father told his son how upset Pierce was about the loss of her pets.

After hearing Connor’s offer, he waited a few days to make sure his son was willing to give up his Chihuahua.

The Handy family has three other dogs: Heino’s parents, Macy and Padro, and Heino’s sister, Riley.

But Heino was the one that slept with Connor each night.

When his son reaffirmed his offer, the father contacted Pierce and set up a meeting.

“I just cannot believe a little boy would just give up his pet,” Pierce said. “You raised a wonderful boy,” she told Chris Handy.

Pierce said the gift especially was appreciated because she was having a difficult time finding a small dog that was friendly enough for her to adopt.

“We went to the shelter, but we couldn’t find one comfortable with people,” she said.

Pierce accepted Connor’s offer, but she needed to change his name to Paco. She explained that it was difficult for her to pronounce “Hee-no.”

“He’s so sweet and he just snuggles with me,” she said.

Pierce said Paco even looks just like her lost Timmy.

Paco also is good around children, which is important because Pierce has two grandchildren.

For now, Pierce is staying with her daughter while she waits for an apartment. The fire that destroyed her apartment also damaged three nearby apartments.

Fire investigators said the blaze likely started in Pierce’s bathroom after she inadvertently turned on a heating unit when flipping a light switch off.

Neighbors feared Pierce was trapped inside, but she was at the library.

Since the fire, Pierce said she has received support from her neighbors at Nottingham Court and from residents of Medina.

“I would like to thank everyone in the community, my family and residents at Nottingham Court,” she said. “God bless them. They’re in my prayers.”

Contact Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.