Shelter receives outpouring of aid, plans re-opening

Kile Brewer
Posted 11/15/17

DOCTORS INLET – After Hurricane Irma hit in mid-September, the sign outside Safe Animal Shelter read “closed.”

Shelter Director Sherry Mansfield received numerous calls, emails and text …

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Shelter receives outpouring of aid, plans re-opening

Posted

DOCTORS INLET – After Hurricane Irma hit in mid-September, the sign outside Safe Animal Shelter read “closed.”

Shelter Director Sherry Mansfield received numerous calls, emails and text messages from concerned friends of the shelter who were worried the storm had knocked them out for good.

“Everybody thought we were wiped out,” she said.

Mansfield quickly got volunteers out to fix the sign, adding the word temporarily, because she was determined to bring the shelter back as soon as possible, starting immediately after the storm.

“The first Saturday [after the storm hit] we held our cleanup day,” Mansfield said. “We probably got about 50 or 60 people out here and carried out anything that could be carried out.”

During the initial cleanup, the shelter filled three large dumpsters, Mansfield said, before finally being able to get into the building’s structure and pressure wash everything before going in for more detailed cleaning.

As Black Creek spilled into the surrounding plots of land, the shelter found itself under between three and four feet of water. The water brought with it a slimy brown muck that got into every nook and cranny of the shelter. Mansfield said that in the two months since closing for the rebuild she has continued to find hidden pockets of flood water and mud.

Overall, the shelter estimates its total damages are around $80,000, but through several grants from Petco, Petsmart, Adopt-A-Pet, and Best Friends Animal Society, some for as much as $10,000, Mansfield felt they had a good standing to try and work toward opening back up much sooner than she had originally thought.

“Support from the community, and these organizations, it was just pouring in,” she said. “And it’s not just local, we’ve had donations and support from across the country.”

Through Facebook, people concerned for animal safety were able to find out about Safe and read its story, next thing they knew, trucks and trailers started showing up to drop off pallets of supplies. Safe has received so much, in fact, that Mansfield has had to donate some of the stuff back to the county to be spread to other shelters in need. One morning, she said, they arrived to find a pallet of horse food blocking their door even though the shelter does not take in horses. It was draped in a Texas flag. Mansfield said the selfless giving really helped her stay optimistic as she watched crews tear out drywall and rebuild the nonprofit’s building from the studs.

“I didn’t realize how appreciated we were,” Mansfield said. “It’s nice to have people who understand and appreciate what we’re doing here, it makes our job easier.”

Mansfield also found a crucial player in the shelter’s rehabilitation through a connection she made when looking for ways to save the hard drives from her mud-caked computers.

She contacted Jason Steedley, a Lake Asbury resident and owner of a local electronics repair business called Tech Resurrect. Steedley was not only able to save the files from the hard drives, but he also sourced, through a friend, two complete computer systems with printers for the shelter on which he reinstalled all their old files, and Steedley’s connections didn’t stop there. While helping out around the shelter, he discovered that their large air conditioning units had ended up on their sides and all the ductwork would need to be redone. Steedley contacted a buddy of his who does air conditioning work, and after a little volunteer work, the shelter’s air conditioner was fixed for fee.

“It’s a network of people we have,” Steedley said. “They’ve got new computers, new cabling, new phones are coming in Friday hopefully.”

Steedley’s work is not done. He continues to come forward with different ideas for things they could do to not just get the shelter back to normal, but to provide it with some technological upgrades at the same time.

After evacuating all the animals from the shelter, Mansfield found foster homes in a hurry as she moved into the home of a shelter board member while her own house started to take on water. Once the water receded, Mansfield said, many of the fostered animals found permanent homes with their foster parents, and others were sent around the country through the Humane Society. In total, they released about 25 dogs and around 50 cats to other states where they will, hopefully, find new homes.

Safe Animal Shelter currently cannot accept any new animals, but it will be back in operation soon. They have set their grand re-opening for Dec. 2 and expect to take in a few animals sometime between Thanksgiving Day and the first Saturday in December.

The event will take place at the shelter and be held from noon until five o’clock that afternoon. The shelter will provide snacks and refreshments, as well as raffle prizes and discounted adoption fees as a thank you to the people who helped them get through their hardships following September’s flood.

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