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Shelter crisis averted; River Reporter staff makes the connection

Twenty-two puppies, as well as dogs, cats and kittens were in need of heat and water during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

November 8, 2012

ROCK HILL, NY — No power since October 29th, no heat, no water—and 22 puppies, 15 dogs, 28 cats and numerous kittens to care for. That was the increasingly desperate situation that the Sullivan County SPCA faced when shelter manager Debbie Dittert posted her plea for the loan of a spare generator on Facebook.

Thomas Stampfli, digital media manager at The River Reporter brought the request to the attention of fellow staffers who suggested calling Home Depot. Stampfli picked up the phone and established a three-way conversation among himself, Dittert and Diane Sheard, manager of the Monticello Home Depot. Minutes later, Dittert learned the shelter would receive donations of a generator, cases of water and dog beds from the hardware chain store.

Home Depot pro associate Carl Desantis quickly gathered up the items so that the generator (an item in very high demand that day) wouldn’t be sold. Later, the busy store would sell nearly 200 generators in a two-hour period to meet local demand. Sheard, who has three dogs of her own, said that while it’s important to meet the needs of humans at such times, it’s easy to forget about the animals that may be suffering or in need of support.

“When there’s a need, we do what we can to help,” said Sheard. “It’s all about building a relationship with the community. We like to give back to the people who support us. I’ve already had people stop by to thank Home Depot for helping the shelter.”

More help came from Pete Melay of Duke Electric, who offered to install the generator and pick up the supplies. “I’ve just been amazed at the outpouring of community support,” said Dittert. “It’s enough to bring me to tears.”

While power has since been restored, the shelter is still in need of a special type of bed that lifts the dogs out of contact with the cold cement floors and is virtually indestructible (visit www.kurandabed.com). The shelter currently needs five such beds.

In addition, the Agway in Liberty maintains an account for the Sullivan County SPCA. Donations can be made by phone using a credit card and the shelter can obtain what it needs by accessing the account.

Volunteers are also needed to walk the dogs and provide companionship and comfort. “The animals are really stressed right now. Not only have they been cold, but we haven’t had light and their routines have really been disrupted. They love to walk and it helps to reduce their stress.”

For those who are thinking of adopting a pet, the shelter is eager to assist.