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Spokane Humane Society scrambles to keep animals warm after power outage

UPDATED: Wed., Jan. 13, 2021

Spokane Humane Society employees work late to ensure all animals are warm amid Wednesday’s early morning windstorm.  (Courtesy photo)
Spokane Humane Society employees work late to ensure all animals are warm amid Wednesday’s early morning windstorm. (Courtesy photo)

When the staff of the Spokane Humane Society arrived at 7 a.m. Wednesday, the mercury plunged to 55 degrees due to a power outage caused by substantial and sustained wind wreaking havoc over the Inland Northwest.

Some dogs and cats were moved to PetSmart on Newport. A number of animals remain at the Spokane Humane Society.

“We have a small generator and space heaters,” Spokane Humane Society Executive Director Ed Boks said. “Every animal has his own Kuranda bed and blankets. We’re also hoping the animal’s body heat will help.”

It’s more than a three-dog night, a phrase that was once used to note when pioneers slept with a number of dogs to create warmth to prevent hypothermia, at the Spokane Humane Society.

Twenty-nine dogs, six cats and one bunny are spending the night in the shelter. Nine kittens and seven dogs are at PetSmart, where they are cared for by SHS staff. Nine dogs and one cat are in foster care. Some animals will move to Bark, A Rescue Pub, and to the Pet Emergency Clinic on Division Street.

“Our employees, foster care givers and volunteers are vital to everything we do every day, and that has never been more evident than it was today,” shelter manager Sheena Bryant said.

SHS hopes that someone will donate a gas-powered emergency generator with an automatic switch.

“That would be great, if possible, since when we lose power in the future, the switch will be seamless and we’ll have power for the animals,” Boks said. “Those generators go somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000.”

SHS also accepts donations to raise money for a generator. “We need a generator for the future and for now, since who knows how long power will be out,” Boks said.

Boks added that staffers will be monitoring the animals all night with battery-powered security cameras, and staff have volunteered to check in on the animals every hour or so all night.

According to the note Avista Utilities sent SHS, “Customers should be prepared for prolonged outages. Assessments may take 24 hours or more in some cases, due to the widespread damage.”

Avista has placed a priority on restoring power to SHS since it’s a veterinary hospital. However, estimated restoration times are unknown.

“It’s a concern for our senior animals and sick animals,” Boks said. “We’re going to do all that we can to do what’s best for the animals.”

Boks encourages anyone who is thinking about adopting an animal to visit Bark or PetSmart.

“That would help,” Boks said. “We would love anyone to adopt a pet, help with foster care or help us with our generator problem.”

According to Boks, tenured SHS employees noted that the facility has lost power on a couple of occasions over recent years.

“Power outages happen,” Boks said. “But we would like to prevent that in the future.”

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