Animal shelters cope with outages

Andrew Robinson
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City of St. John's site uses generator; SPCA rich in volunteers

Four-legged creatures without a proper home have not been neglected following recent power outages in St. John's.

On Monday, the City's of St. John’s Humane Services Shelter was still relying on a generator for limited power. Shelter veterinarian Heather Hillier is shown with some cats staying at the shelter.

Both the City of St. John's Humane Services Shelter and the SPCA St. John's shelter have kept their animals fed and warm. On Monday, the city shelter was relying on a generator for basic services. It was not open to the public, but staff were accepting complaint calls.

Power was restored to the shelter Tuesday, allowing it to reopen for its regular business hours.

“Our power first went Saturday when everyone's went,” said shelter veterinarian Heather Hillier. “We had first kind of thought about the idea — because the depot had maintained power — about moving the animals to a secondary location, but of course with about 50 cats in the building, that just wasn't feasible.”

A decision was then made to use a generator. It was hooked up Saturday night and supplied electricity for the shelter until power was restored overnight. The shelter lost power again Sunday night

“It looks like it's going to be a permanent fixture until we have reliable power,” said Hillier on Monday.

At the SPCA St. John's shelter on RCAF Road, the biggest challenge at first Saturday was getting into the building, as weather conditions made it treacherous to travel within the city.

“We couldn't get anyone into the building until pretty late into the afternoon,” said SPCA St. John's board chairwoman Simone Browne.

The person who got in manged to do a water and food changeover and some cleaning. More helpers arrived later in the evening for basic caregiving.

Browne said many animals either sick or not adapting well to the shelter environment were placed in foster care prior to the storm.

The Humane Services Shelter — which has 50 cats and seven dogs — did not have access to hot water during outages, therefore the industrial dishwasher and the clothing washer could not be used. Dishes were hand-washed, while staff went deep into a large supply of donated blankets.

“We've got quite a stack of laundry,” Hillier said Monday.

The system for logging citizen reports was also not operational Monday. Outdoor run sites were filled with snow, leaving dogs unable to run freely in them. Staff instead took them on leashed walks.

“Thankfully, the dog numbers have been low, so we can get them all out individually for their walks and pees and poops,” said Hillier.

Arrangements were made to have a snow blower come Tuesday to clear the run sites.

Outdoor run sites at the SPCA shelter were also filled with snow. A call for volunteers on Sunday managed to attract several helpers to shovel the snow.

“After shovelling all day to get themselves out, they managed to come out and shovel us out as well,” said Browne. “It was amazing. We put a call out on Twitter, and we had people show up within half an hour, 45 minutes, to help shovel out.”

The SPCA shelter presently has approximately 90 cats and 16 dogs.

“If you're looking for a way to heat up your home when it's cold — and I tell ya, I have a beagle — they heat up a lot of space,” said Browne. “So come and get a dog.”

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: Humane Services Shelter

Geographic location: St. John's, RCAF Road

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