by Kimberly Wade
It’s hard to find someone that wasn’t impacted by our recent weather. From heavy rains and flooding to serious snow and ice, everyone in our community was affected in some form. The animals, homeless pets especially, were among those.
On Friday, January 6, it was determined that our shelter in Reno could flood. A nearby drainage ditch is prone to flooding so we knew if the Truckee would crest, we could get hit. In addition, many of the streets around us were in the flood zone, and that would mean that people couldn’t get into the shelter. We immediately put our emergency plan into effect.
We decided to waive all adoption fees for Saturday, the day before the worst weather was supposed to hit. Our goal was to place as many animals into loving homes, therefore lessening the number of animals in the shelter that we would have to evacuate. We also asked for foster homes—reaching out to not just our existing foster homes but anyone in the public who would be willing to house someone for a few days. We asked volunteers if they could help us move all of our supplies. We called the media. We asked for help. The response was overwhelming.
We opened at 10am on Saturday. The parking lot was full even before that, with hundreds of volunteers lining up to help, adopters ready to find their new BFF and people wanting to donate—because they knew there would be a financial impact as well. We were flooded (pun intended) with people wanting to help us and our animals. I can’t even describe the feeling that went through me when I pulled up to the shelter—seeing cars lined up, people everywhere, Animal Services teams preparing for rescue, news crews—and even volunteers directing traffic! It was a madhouse to say the least, but in the best possible way. It was heartwarming, touching and humbling.
On Saturday alone, 81 pets were adopted into homes with new families and another 40 went to temporary foster homes. We were blown away at the kindness, generosity and good intentions that were displayed. It was unlike any other event because the people who responded came here to help. They didn’t come because the animals were free. They wanted to make a difference. After the danger had passed, we began receiving heartwarming stories about those who had found wonderful new homes in the face of crisis. We have a great community here and the stories and photos sent in by our adopters prove it.
While we start to share some of those stories on Facebook, I also ask that you join me for a huge thank you to everyone who made such a lifesaving difference during the flood weekend. We could not have done it without you! Collier International, thanks to the help of our Board of Directors, offered us space in a nearby empty storefront for a temporary shelter. ITS Logistics lent us a giant truck, as did Budget, to store our supplies so they wouldn’t get damaged. Hundreds of volunteers came to place sandbags, move supplies and care for the animals. Foster families, new and old, came out to bring animals home, even if for a few days. Adopters came from Tahoe, Sacramento and all over Nevada to save lives! Our management team was here round the clock watching over the animals and shelter. Our Carson City team was out in the weather to help people who needed it, providing food, care and shelter. We asked for help. You answered. And we are infinitely grateful. I can’t say it enough and I wish I could express the pride I felt upon seeing all of this happen. Thank you for showing the world what community means and what lifesaving stands for. Thanks to you, we took our lemons and turned them into lemonade!
P.S. Fun fact—on Sunday we had only one dog available for adoption! How amazing is that?!