A new wave of Animal Welfare Society volunteers met welcoming, though exhausted, arms Sunday.
A handful of members who have worked steady through a two-week effort to collect, feed, water and exercise more than 100 displaced animals said Sunday that the need for volunteers has never been greater.
A team of national volunteers who jump from disaster to disaster left town Saturday, taking with them 15 sets of hands and a well-tested organizational structure that local volunteers said will be missed.
“We don’t have that kind of organization,” said Jean Eslick, president of the Ottawa County Animal Welfare Society. “But, we are going to get through this and we are going to be fine.”
Eslick is bedding down at night in the temporary shelter set up at the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College.
Others, though not choosing to sleep among the four-legged flood victims, are devoting their daylight hours to shelter work.
The volunteers are working moment to moment as they do the things that need to be done — cleaning cages, filling water bowls, walking dogs, assuring the nervous and feeding the hungry in a never-ending rotation of duties.
“We could use a little more manpower,” said Carol Pendergraft, a veteran volunteer of the society. “The 4-H kids have been wonderful. They have really saved our lives. I honestly don’t know what we would do without them.”
Pendergraft said the teens who are involved in a 4-H dog-training program have been invaluable.
Supplies, food, cages and other items have been bountifully supplied, according to Pendergraft.
The shelter has everything it needs — except for pet claims and a few true “man” hands to do heavy lifting and moving of cages.
Despite the fact that many of the animals appear to be well-cared for and trained, very few pet owners have come to the site to claim their animals.
Beginning today, adoptions will resume.
Volunteers say they will hold on to animals that have been identified by an owner as long as they can, but they will not deny them a good home if the opportunity arises.
The reality is — the shelter is running out of time. The college has given the shelter an order to vacate by July 27.
Once out of the college’s arena, the group will be forced back to the city’s animal shelter where less than 20 animals can be housed.
At last count, nearly 100 dogs and 73 cats were logged in at the NEO shelter site.
As to what will happen to the unclaimed pets after Friday, volunteers are trying not to dwell on the fact that many many be euthanized.
“We will do everything we can to find foster homes,” Eslick said. “ I will begin (today) to make calls to area shelters to see if they can take some. I will call everyone I know.”
Those wanting to volunteer time or make donations is asked to go to the shelter site located on Rockdale Boulevard near the intersection of Mushroom Farm Road.