Despite a dedicated staff and enthusiastic volunteers who work tirelessly to help homeless animals, there is no getting around the fact that the facility that houses Payson Humane Society is in deplorable condition.
Recently, when it was bitterly cold, a water pipe froze and burst in the ceiling of the shelter's clinic, spraying water for several hours over cats housed in stainless steel kennels. A puppy in a playpen on the floor received the brunt of the spray until help arrived.
The heating system in the clinic is so bad that electric space heaters were being used. With the flooding, the cords to these heaters were under two inches of water. Amazingly, no people or animals were electrocuted.
When staff arrived at the shelter the next day, they found the pilot light on the antiquated propane heater -- that is supposed to heat the entire main building -- had gone out. Many cats and two small dogs are housed in this area on concrete floors that were cold as ice by the time the dead pilot light was discovered.
Typically, when the weather is cold, something freezes at the shelter.
Sometimes it is the entire water system.
When that happens, it is impossible to clean kennels and litter boxes, laundry cannot be done and mountains of blankets, towels and rugs pile up. Water freezes on the walkways, making it dangerous for staff and visitors.
Such conditions are totally unacceptable.
While the board and staff of the Payson Humane Society are working hard to find funding for the construction of a new shelter, there is still a need to make the current facility usable year-round. Among some of the most immediate needs:
- Heat tape and insulation for the plumbing.
- More propane or oil heaters.
- Flooring -- some kind of washable, insulated flooring to go over the concrete in the cat houses in the main building to protect the cats from the cold.
- Dog play yard -- crushed granite fill so the dogs don't get so muddy when it is raining or snowing.
- New industrial dryer.
Janet Ostrom and Ellie Watson, who manage the PHS shelter, discussed some additional immediate needs.
The small propane-heating units the shelter is using in some areas are causing electrical problems, so there is a serious need to have rewiring done, Ostrom said.
"A volunteer has offered to donate an industrial strength washing machine to the shelter," she said, but to use it, more electrical upgrades are needed. And while the shelter staff, volunteers and administration appreciate all the assistance available when there is a crisis, Ostrom said it is important they have professionals helping with such things as electrical improvements.
Roofing is also needed, Watson said. A lot of the doors in the shelter are falling off the hinges, so they need to be replaced, she said.
Plans have been made to paint some parts of the shelter and the paint has been purchased, but painters are needed to complete the job.
Watson added that gift cards for pet supplies are preferred at this time because of the shelter's limited storage space.
Donations of the cost of these materials, funds for their purchase or labor are tax-deductible. If you can help, please send your check to Payson Humane Society, P.O. Box 242, Payson, AZ 85547. To donate materials or labor, call (928) 474-5590 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday.
-- Teresa McQuerrey contributed to this article. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 474-5251 ext. 113.