NEW RICHMOND, Wis. (WCCO) — The same snowstorm that collapsed the Metrodome roof in dramatic fashion had a similar damaging effect on a western Wisconsin animal shelter and kennel.
An old barn that housed part of Gregory’s House of Hope shelter and Mally’s Sunshine Kennels caved in under the tremendous weight of heavy snow.
Sometime Saturday afternoon, the steel and wood structure came crashing to the ground, taking out the operation’s laundry and animal exercise area.
Two days later, the bright sunshine and fresh snow should make for invigorating playtime for the 25 rescue dogs. Instead, it’s causing nothing but anxiety over how to care for the operation’s cats and dogs.
“This is all we got, this is it,” said volunteer Annie Rengel, one of several people who spend time at the shelter caring for abandoned and stray pets.
But after Saturday’s near disaster, the New Richmond shelter is trying to quickly find foster or permanent homes for the animals.
“He hears this whoosh, that’s what he opened (the door) to on Saturday,” says kennel owner, Colleen O’Shaughnessy.
Walking back to the adjacent roof that once covered the outdoor animal run, twisted steel and splintered beams are all that remains. When the roof fell under the weight of Saturday’s snowfall, planning began immediately to find placements for the cats and dogs.
“It would be great if people could adopt them, but I also don’t like to push adoption in an emergency situation,” said O’Shaughnessy.
As if the roof collapse isn’t bad enough, the shelter also operates as a full-time kennel. Mally’s Sunshine Kennels is the part of the operation that pays the bills and allows the rescue efforts to continue. Holiday season would normally bring some 40 or more pets to the business for temporary care. That’s probably not going to happen this year because of the damage and necessary cleanup.
O’Shaughnessy is now calling customers to tell them the bad news. While insurance may pay for repairs, it can’t take care of the more immediate needs. There’s bedding and bowls to wash, but the collapse took out the shelter’s laundry.
Volunteer Annie Rengel says the need for animal shelter services is constantly growing in western Wisconsin, and won’t stop for a disaster.
“Daily we’re getting calls, we have strays, we have surrenders, people losing homes and can’t take the animals with them,” said Rengel. “A lot of strays, especially cats. And you can’t leave them out in this weather.”
For more information on adoption or foster care at the shelter, or to make a donation, you click here to log onto their website.
WCCO-TV’s Bill Hudson Reports