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'A lot of panic': Low temperatures had Help for Homeless Pets asking for assistance

'A lot of panic': Low temperatures had Help for Homeless Pets asking for assistance
Posted at 6:27 PM, Jan 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-16 17:03:43-05

BILLINGS — As the temperatures dropped to record lows outside, the recently redone outdoor dog area at Help for Homeless Pets felt the effects.

“The water was frozen, the heat was not working out there,” the operations manager at the shelter, Ashley Burling, said on Monday. “It was actually really rough, a lot of panic.”

'A lot of panic': Low temperatures had Help for Homeless Pets asking for assistance

The heaters not working in the outdoor area, which holds 10 dogs, caused the area to become so cold that the dogs' water froze. The outdoor area, which the shelter staff calls a dog run, is a covered shelter, similar to a shed.

The shelter is overcrowded already with 100 cats and 37 dogs, so they had no space inside the main shelter to put the dogs. Consequently, the shelter needed outside assistance.

'A lot of panic': Low temperatures had Help for Homeless Pets asking for assistance

“Every winter, we haven’t had trouble before. (The outdoor area) kept everything nice and warm, but this, it wouldn’t do it,” said the shelter director, Angie Cook.

For the safety of the animals, the shelter staff put out a call for fosters and heaters, and the community immediately responded.

'A lot of panic': Low temperatures had Help for Homeless Pets asking for assistance

“The community stepped up so fast, that I couldn’t even keep up on my phone,” Burling said.

The shelter fostered out six dogs right away, and multiple heaters were donated. The dogs are now able to be back in the outdoor area, thanks to the help of the community.

'A lot of panic': Low temperatures had Help for Homeless Pets asking for assistance

Right before the cold hit Billings, Help for Homeless Pets was asking the community to look for a vehicle that was allegedly stolen from one of their volunteers while that volunteer was dropping off cats at the PetSmart in the Heights.

'A lot of panic': Low temperatures had Help for Homeless Pets asking for assistance

“That was in the mix of everything so, but the main focus was to make sure all the animals were warm and taken care of. As warm as they could be,” Cook said.

Kristin Sclavi is a volunteer with Rez Dog Rescue Montana and said their organization was busy at work and took in 17 puppies before the temperatures dropped.

“They won’t survive this kind of weather,” Sclavi said. “We will be going back out once this cold snap goes away, and going and seeing what we can find as far as, you know, if there’s injuries, frostbite, hypothermia, that kind of stuff.”

Both organizations are in desperate need of fosters, adopters and donations.

'A lot of panic': Low temperatures had Help for Homeless Pets asking for assistance

“Secondarily, if you cannot foster or adopt, food is always good,” Sclavi said.

Help for Homeless Pets also said they need blankets, buckets for food and monetary donations to help with the large utility bills they have during the winter months.