The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

January 25, 2014

Humane society tries to stay warm

By Samantha Pidde Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — Six to seven space heaters are running in the Clinton Humane Society during the day as employees try to keep almost 100 animals warm after the shelter's heater broke down earlier this week.

The Clinton Humane Society is reaching out to the community for help in keeping its animals warm, setting up a fund for a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at Gateway State Bank. People can donate at the bank or by visiting the humane society's website

"We're really strapped for funds right now," Executive Director Sandi Bartels said. "We have puppies up here we're trying to keep warm. We have kittens up here we're trying to keep warm. It's a struggle."

The shelter's staff discovered the heat was off when they came in Tuesday. The heater worked later that day, after a repair man fixed it. However, by Wednesday morning, the shelter was 58 degrees.

"It may run for a few minutes; a few hours; overnight, but it's shot," Bartels said.

Humane society funds have recently been depleted from accepting large quantities of cats from hoarding situations, Bartels said. Some of these cats also are suffering from ringworm, which Bartels said is expensive to treat.

Bartels expects the new roof-top heater unit to cost between $12,000 to $15,000. The shelter considered purchasing the parts to fix the heater, but Bartels said the heat exchanger would not be available until February. She pointed out that ext week is expected to be terribly cold.

"So we have another cold week ahead of us and no heat," Bartels said.

While battling the cold conditions, the humane society is closed to the public, locking the doors to keep the wind out. Anyone wanting to reclaim an animal can call the shelter at 242-2457 to make arrangements. The shelter continues to accept animals from the city.

"We would never turn away a stray," Bartels said.

Every morning, Animal Care Specialist Jessica Bielema and the rest of the staff turn on space heaters and open doors to warm up the building. Each animal has two or three blankets to keep warmth inside the area. If one seems to be cold, one of the employees will give it another blanket warmed in the dryer.

"Even though it's really cold in here, it's not like they are in the wind and out in the elements," Bartels said.

The dogs are staying warm due to the heated floors. Some of the cats have developed small colds, but Bielema said most are staying warm enough.

"They've got a fur coat on," Bielema said.

The real hardship is at night when the staff go home and the space heaters have to be turned off. The building's temperature can drop to 55 degrees. One employee, who lives above the shelter, comes down every couple hours and places warm blankets and towels around the cats and dogs.

Beisdes keeping the space heaters running whenever they are at the shelter, staff members also are running water before they leave. Bartels said they would hate to have the pipes freeze in the cold weather.

"So many things are costing us money because of the initial thing that happened," Bartels said.