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Animal lovers rally to help burglarized Clearwater animal shelter

CLEARWATER — Animal lovers across the Tampa Bay area are stepping up to help a nonprofit animal shelter that was burglarized over the weekend.

"As disheartened as we were about what took place, the amount of support coming from people just renews my faith in mankind," said shelter spokeswoman Twila Cole.

No animals were injured or stolen during the break-in at the Humane Society of North Pinellas at 3040 State Road 590, officials said. But staffers were left with a huge mess, including broken glass, damaged locks and busted door frames, Cole said.

After seeing news reports about the burglary, one concerned resident called his security company and a locksmith and sent them to the facility to make estimates on repairs, Cole said.

Staffers found the damage Sunday morning, and officials said they think the break-in happened late Saturday or early Sunday. Three different buildings at the facility were damaged. Thieves took cash from registers and donation containers and broke into medical cabinets, though it did not appear they took any medication, Cole said.

Cole said shelter officials have been overwhelmed by the community's response.

"Their initial thought or feeling when they first heard it was pure anger," Cole said. "Whether it's a $5 donation or $100 donation, people have been giving. … People that have nothing are offering their services, their time. It's amazing."

Executive Director Sarah Brown was on her way to work Sunday when she received a text message about the break-in.

"Who really does that to a nonprofit? Who takes away from homeless pets?" she said.

Brown said she was relieved to find that two resident pets, cats Goldie and Lacey, were still in the education center despite the door being left wide open. Goldie is old, has no teeth and would have a difficult time surviving on the outside, she said.

"A door can be replaced," she said. "An animal cannot."

Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

Animal lovers rally to help burglarized Clearwater animal shelter 11/08/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 7:43pm]
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