It was a surprise and a very pleasant one.
The Animal Welfare Society of Miami gathered Monday with supporters and volunteers who helped during the recent flood as well as representatives of the American Humane Association for a follow-up session to the flood.
What none of the Miamians knew was that the society would receive a $5,000 grant from the association.
“I had no idea they were going to make a donation,” Jean Eslick, president of the society, said. “I was told that, when I heard of the donation, I gasped and sucked the wind out of the room.
“The humane association had already given us a book all about animal shelters. I was happy just to have the book!”
The book is two-volume AHA shelter operation guide to help with the local operations. It is a compendium of resources available to animal shelters and described as being “as big as a phone directory.”
The unexpected $5,000 Emergency Services Grant from the association was presented to honor the society's hard work protecting animals during the recent flood and to assist the society in its recovery efforts.
Tracy Reis, the association's animal emergency services program manager, worked with the animal recovery for 11 days during the flooding.
“The bottom line is, if you had not been here, we don't know if any animals would have survived,” Reis said as she presented the check. “For you to carry on what we started was amazing.
“It was so emotional when I drove through the toll booth returning to Miami. My memories here are still very fresh.
“The community as a whole really jumped together. Most the rubble may be gone, but the lives all of us saved are amazing.”
Reis was accompanied by Debrah Schnackenberg, interim vice president of Animal Protection Services and director of Animal Emergency Services.
During the disaster, American Humane's Red Star Animal Emergency Services staff and volunteers worked alongside the Animal Welfare Society members and community volunteers to rescue and care for animals stranded in the floodwaters.
The shelter and rescue teams took in more than 300 animals whose owners could not care for them during and after the flood.
On July 14, American Humane's Red Star team turned over all operations to society, which continued caring for the animals, finding homes for cats and dogs and reuniting pets with their owners.
In addition to the efforts of shelter members Carol Pendegraft and Cathy Grissom, Eslick credits more than 100 volunteers with managing to rescue and take care of the animals.
“I'm happy to say that no animals were euthanized that we rescued,” Eslick said.
Approximately six dogs are still being kept in foster homes for people displaced by the flood.
More than 30 dogs and cats were taken to Oklahoma City and Tulsa shelters to be adopted.
Donations have been received from across the state to assist with the costs the society incurred during the flood and its aftermath.
“I think we've got all of our bills paid,” Eslick said. “Since this grant was a surprise I'm not sure where it will go. Perhaps we'll purchase a certificate of deposit at the bank and use it to finance future plans.”