Thursday, January 18, 2018
Public safety

Storm collapses kennel roof at Humane Society

CLEARWATER — As Tropical Storm Andrea surged through Tampa Bay Thursday, a kennel roof collapsed at the Humane Society of Pinellas, displacing 20 wet dogs into conference rooms.

Nobody, canine or human, was hurt.

Wilma, a shy pit bull mix, was among the pooches quickly leashed and escorted out of the wreckage by staffers, who said they heard a "boom!" around 11:30 a.m. She nestled into a red blanket Thursday afternoon, wearing a "thunder shirt" designed to calm her nerves.

"We were all a little shaken up," said Humane Society employee Abigail Kamleiter, checking on the separately caged dogs in one conference room. "We heard the crash, stepped into our boots, ran outside and got them out of there in less than 15 minutes."

Another roof, on the campus' east end, appeared to be freshly dented.

It's unclear how much the repairs will cost, said Humane Society Executive Director Sarah Brown, or when the adoption area will re-open.

"Of course, now we need the community's help more than ever," Brown said. "Things got crazy today."

Last year, during Tropical Storm Debby, oak tree branches crashed into the partially open-air shelter, damaging some cages. The dogs, cats and rabbits were unharmed.

"We hired an arborist this year to make sure that won't happen again," said spokesperson Twila Cole. "And we have the building checked regularly. This was just a freak occurrence."

On Thursday, roughly 150 animals remained at the Humane Society, ready for a new home. Staffers waded through debris. Cats snoozed in the adjacent kennel.

"Kudos to everyone who got the animals out of there so quickly, and while it was still raining," Cole said. "The teamwork today was amazing."

Danielle Paquette can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4224.

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