We’ve sent three more grants to Texas shelters to help them recover from this year’s devastating winter storms. Here are their stories:
Harris County Pets Resource Center
Project Manager Marissa Johnston writes: “Harris County Pets (HCP) [in Houston] was directly impacted by the week-long extreme weather event Winter Storm Uri. For six days, HCP was forced to remain closed to the public due to power and water outages as well as dangerous road conditions and freezing temperatures.
“Throughout the six days, staff remained on-site, including overnight, to care for the approximately 190 animals in our facility. As a county-operated organization, additional staff were required to stand up an animal-care site at a county-operated warming facility, where they cared for animals in need of warmth and shelter during the storm.
“Phone operators and animal-control officers continued to answer calls remotely and respond to urgent needs to ensure animals in the community were being kept inside with adequate protection from the freezing temperatures. At times, widespread power outages and cellular service interruptions presented an insurmountable challenge in maintaining these critical operations.
“One of the greatest trials of the event was the loss of power and water in our building. HCP had just two portable generators at our disposal that could provide power for limited sections of the facility. One of the generators proved unreliable and, therefore, during one of the coldest nights of the week-long storm, HCP had just one working generator to power a small section of our sprawling facility. We were thankfully able to get the second generator working by reducing the load and cutting off power to certain areas of the building. Animals needed to be consolidated to smaller sections to keep the generator running.
“Water was an additional concern, as the boil-water notice, followed by a loss of water pressure, raised concerns about our staffs’ ability to adequately clean kennels and provide safe drinking water for the animals in our care.
“As a result of extended power outages, certain medications and vaccines in our medical refrigerators became unusable and needed to be replaced.
“Due to our six-day closure, the pets in our facility experienced a length-of-stay much longer than our average 5.9 days. To address this issue and avoid any potential capacity concerns, Harris County Pets hosted a free adoption event from Sunday, February 28th to Friday, March 5th.
“This was our first large-scale weather event endured in our new Harris County Pets facility. With only a few months until hurricane season, we fully expect many of the extreme challenges presented during Winter Storm Uri to further impact HCP in future weather events. As we engage in recovery from Winter Storm Uri, we are also looking to better prepare our building to withstand extreme conditions and protect the health and well-being of the animals in our care during such events.”
Our grant will help fund a water tank, replacement medications and vaccines,
temperature monitors, heating and cooling equipment, mobile hotspots, and additional emergency supplies (battery packs, flashlights, fans), as well as reimburse the shelter for waived adoption fees after the storm.
Bay Area Pet Adoptions
“The Texas artic storm hit all of us by surprise, as the Texas Gulf Coast never sees sub-freezing weather like this, in addition to a power grid failure,” writes Ann Traynor-Plowman, a volunteer at Bay Area Pet Adoptions in San Leon. “Our shelter lost power for almost a week. A water pipe in the big-dog kennel burst from the freezing temperatures.
“Bay Area Pet Adoptions prepared as well as we could for this winter storm event and sent the majority of our shelter dogs into foster, so we only had dogs with behavioral challenges left at the shelter, and our cattery. One of our wonderful staff members volunteered to stay at the shelter to care for our animals who were on-site, as well as keep an eye on the buildings. We combined all of the dogs into one building for convenience and close proximity to the cattery and office. He stayed in the small office to look after two of dogs who were sheltered there instead of the kennels.
“The power went out the first night on February 13th and did not come back on for five days. Our quick-thinking staff ran to Home Depot and purchased the last generator, gasoline, and multiple extension cords to help keep the small-dog kennels, cattery, and front office warm. She was also able to borrow some portable electric heaters from her neighbors.
“We are located on the Texas Gulf Coast and we had snow on the ground for days, which is unheard of. If it snows down here, it is usually melted by the next day.
“An overhead water pipe broke and rained down through the ceiling and light fixture, soaking all of the dog kennels on the right side of the building. Fortunately, all of the dogs had been moved to the other building and were safe and dry. The below-freezing temperatures also froze our water-well pump pipes and the lever handle broke.
“Plumbers were very scarce as this was happening all over the state. Staff finally located a plumber to patch the broken overhead pipe. To date, he has not had time to come back and give us an estimate for additional repairs. We were also able to locate a handyman to help with basic repairs to get the building up and running again.
“By the weekend, our shelter was recovering and many of the dogs who were in foster were able to return to the shelter. On a happy note, two of our shelter dogs found their forever homes due to the storm!”
Our grant will help cover out-of-pocket expenses the shelter had not budgeted for, such as the purchase of a generator to keep the animals and staff members warm, extensions cords, gasoline, water-pipe repair, and miscellaneous ceiling and lighting-fixture repairs from the burst attic pipe.
Highland Lakes Canine Rescue
The deep freeze’s impact on Highland Lakes Canine Rescue in Marble Falls included power loss for several days, impassable roads preventing scheduled animal care staff from getting to work, downed trees and limbs making parts of the property impassable, and frozen and broken pipes causing water outages for several days.
“Because we care for 20+ dogs at a time at our shelter, our number-one priority was the safety and comfort of these dogs. In response to these impacts, we took action on the following disaster recovery needs,” says volunteer Holly Goldbetter: “We immediately brought on and paid emergency animal-care staff living nearby to make sure the animals were fed, warm, and comfortable. We also purchased bottled water for drinking and cleaning needs while tap water was unavailable; a chainsaw and fuel to clear our property of many downed trees and limbs so that animal care staff could safely access work areas; and plumbing supplies to repair broken pipes so that water service could be restored.”
Our grant will offset these expenses and enable the shelter to take in and afford basic medical expenses for four additional dogs in 2021. Its basic medical expenses average just over $150 per dog, which includes spay/neuter, vaccinations, heartworm/parasite tests, and microchip.