A Friday morning storm caused significant damage to an animal shelter in Annapolis, displacing dozens of dogs and cats.
The storm, which dumped more than an inch of rain in Annapolis during a 24-hour period, according to the National Weather Service, left water damage, scattered debris and smashed ceiling pieces littering the floor of the intake building on the campus of the Anne Arundel County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on Bay Ridge Avenue.
As many as 30 dogs and 20 cats were displaced by the damage, said Kristen Nimmo, an SPCA administrative assistant.
All the animals who were living at the Annapolis shelter have been placed in temporary homes or in other less affected parts of the organization’s campus, said Karen Meek, the SPCA’s Cat Coordinator. The animal intake room sustained the most damage, said Meek. She was unable to estimate how much repairs would cost.
The timing was especially bad because space on campus was already limited due to a construction project that had put another building out of commission, Meek said.
“Fortunately, we have a staff member who lives here on the property, so she alerted us first thing what was going on and several of us rushed over to start moving animals out,” Meek said Monday. “We did a lot of work with our volunteers to try and get as many animals out into homes as quickly as possible so that we could have the rest of the space for our other animals.”
About a dozen SPCA members took animals home to care for them for a few days.
The damaged building was used to house animals being dropped off to the shelter and for animals scheduled to undergo medical exams and remain for a few days afterward for observation.
“Our intake building is really critical to our daily operations, so we definitely were not planning on doing anything with that one yet, but nature had other plans I guess,” Meek said.
The storm produced a waterspout tornado that swirled across Smith Island, felled trees and caused power outages across Central Maryland. Volunteers with the American Red Cross of the National Capital and Greater Chesapeake Region distributed hundreds of meals and snacks across the area after the storm and assessed the damage, according to a news release Monday.
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“When we first went in [Friday morning] it didn’t seem so bad and it just kept getting worse and worse throughout the day,” Meek said. “Parts of the ceiling tiles were coming down; you could see through to the outside.”
While the storm unnerved many of the animals most were surprisingly cooperative during the chaos, Meek said.
“Especially with the cats I was expecting difficulty getting them out of their cages, but everybody was just ready to go and ready to move to the next place,” she said.
The adoption process will be largely unchanged as the main shelter is still up and running, though next steps for repairing the intake room are unclear, Meek said. Those not ready to welcome a new family member into their home can still help by donating money or pet food to the shelter as it gets back up to speed, Meek said.
The organization is still hosting walk-throughs for those who want to visit the animals on site. Future pet owners can apply online and see all the adoptable animals both in foster homes and on campus. If approved, applicants will be given appointments to meet the pet. Meek said the organization currently has 117 dogs and 301 cats, though not all are available for adoption as some are undergoing medical treatment or awaiting spay and neuter surgery.
The incident underscores the urgency of finding permanent homes for the cats and dogs, Meek said.
“We’re definitely still in the process of figuring out exactly how we’re going to make this work,” she said. “If you’re interested in adopting, now is the time.”