Two days ago, our shelter, the Humane Society of Southeast Texas, was engulfed in flames and heavy, black smoke. As the first responders worked to put out the flames, members of the shelter staff, their families, shelter volunteers, and board members stood in the background, expressions of horror and hopelessness on their faces. We all felt so helpless. Some in the crowd, myself included, hoped for the best as the flames were coming from only a small area of the shelter.
It seemed to take forever before the firefighters entered the shelter. Moments later, banks of cat cages were being rolled out. The cats were alive and most seemed to be okay. Then several firemen walked out, each carrying a dog. The dogs were placed on the ground and the EMT personnel huddled over the bodies, administering oxygen.
Then one of the fireman walked over, motioned for our shelter manager (Carrie May Fontnow) to follow him and they walked away. We didn't need to hear the words.
That night, 74 dogs died. Only 13 dogs made it out alive.
Between that night and now, the horror and hopelessness has become tears and heartbreak for the staff and volunteers. Each one of them could tell you the name, the personalities, and the funny stories of every dog in the shelter. Our line of business has never been an easy one. We have lost animals before but this time was different, inconceivable, unacceptable. Our hearts are hurting. There is no amount of strength that could have ever prepared us for that nights terror. We didn't get to say goodbye. We didn't get to help them to the rainbow bridge and we will never be able to erase the images, the sounds, the smells.
Our shelter has dutifully served us for over 45 years, providing a home, love, and care to 150 to 200 animals at any one time. Now, the ceilings are caved in, the walls are covered in ash, and ghosts walk the hallways. Our survivors are all in foster care or receiving treatment at the vet clinic as the shelter awaits its verdict.
We are the Humane Society of Southeast Texas. We are the largest animal shelter in the Golden Triangle Area. We serve 8 different counties across southeast Texas and Louisiana. Our mission is to enrich the lives of pets and people through advocacy, education, and forever homes of our companion animals. Serving the homeless, abandoned, and unwanted pets of southeast Texas is our passion.
While waiting on reports regarding the extent of the damage, our small, local community has been overwhelming in their support. We've also received calls and emails from all over Texas, and from California to New York. Just today, we got a call from a shelter in England that experienced a fire several years ago; they wanted to let us know we can recover. The incredible amount of support is truly helping to heal our hearts and gives us hope. Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and donations.
With your support we will be able to overcome our devastating loss and re-build our shelter. Donations will be used to get the shelter back up and running.