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Billings nonprofit works to keep homeless pets cool in scorching temperatures

homeless pets.JPG
Posted at 5:08 PM, Jun 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 10:19:51-04

BILLINGS- The sweltering heat that wrapped eastern Montana in record-breaking temperatures is especially felt by those without air conditioning.

For one Billings nonprofit that specializes in taking in and finding homes for homeless pets, the lives of animals were on the line.

Ashley Burling acts as the operations manager for the Billings nonprofit, Help for Homeless Pets. The organization has been finding forever homes for pets for over 21 years, and they operate strictly off donations and adoption fees with no money from the city or county, said Burling.

The facility, located on the Billings South Side, doesn’t have air conditioning, putting staff in a panic by Monday when mid-afternoon temperatures crept above 100 degrees.

“I think yesterday, kind of right between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., we were really feeling the heat,” said Burling. “We were feeling the pressure of what we were going to do to keep these guys cool.”

Burling said with the forecast predicting record temperatures by Tuesday, they knew they had to act fast.

“It’s hot. You know, we have around 67 cats and about 15 dogs,” she said.

What came next was a blessing. They reached out to their partners in the community, and soon volunteers showed up at the facility with fans to keep the animals cool.

Burling said large fans, box fans, even fans in the cat houses are now firing inside the facility.

“Cats are pretty adaptable,” she said.

Generosity is something you can find in a community like Billings, from people who care about animals.

“We even had a guy come and put some water flow on the roof. We're hoping, you know, that that'll help keep us a little bit cooler,” she said.

That’s because the facility has a metal roof, and outside are some of the dogs.

“And they're actually having a great time,” she said.

Volunteers for the shelter spent time taking the dogs to a kiddie pool and dousing them with hoses throughout the day, all to keep them cool in the scorching heat.

Burling said they’re making the most of it.

“Montana will be back to the cold in no time,” she said.