2021 | Police & Fire

UPDATED: Founder of dog rescue organization died in house fire

Two dogs also died in fire Sunday night; four dogs survived

Photo from Pete Piringer

This story was updated at 7:34 p.m. on Feb. 22, 2021, to include additional information about Judith Marion

A woman who founded a Rottweiler dog rescue organization died following a house fire Sunday evening in Darnestown.

Judith Marion, 72, was trapped inside a home on Darnestown Road on Sunday night and later died at a hospital, spokeswoman Sgt. Rebecca Innocenti confirmed to Bethesda Beat on Monday.

Police said in a press release Monday that they are conducting a death investigation, but don’t think there was any foul play.

Marion founded the NoVa Rottweiler Rescue League, a nonprofit organization that takes in Rottweiler dogs, address their health problems, and finds foster and permanent homes for them.

According to the organization’s website, Marion was inspired to start the organization after buying her first Rottweiler dog. After 12 weeks, she discovered her puppy had dysplasia — a skeletal deformity that affects hip joints — and she sold her car to help raise money for surgery, the description states.

The website states that Marion and Renice Zimmerman founded another Rottweiler rescue organization in the mid-1990s called SSRR, based on the NoVa Rottweiler Rescue League.

Zimmerman could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.

Firefighters were called to the 15000 block of Darnestown Road around 7:15 p.m. on Sunday for a house fire and rescued a woman, Fire & Rescue spokesman Pete Piringer had posted on Twitter.

Piringer wrote that the woman was taken to the hospital with injuries considered life-threatening, and later died. He did not identify the woman in his tweets.

He wrote that two of the six dogs in the house during the fire also died, while the other four were eventually rescued by animal services.

Piringer added that neighbors made multiple rescue attempts before firefighters arrived, but were unsuccessful.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com