LIVINGSTON - The Stafford Animal Shelter faced severe flood damage, and potentially may have to find a new home, following Monday’s flooding of the Yellowstone River.
On Monday night, when evacuations began, Alicia Davis says that water levels outside were low—and no water had made its way into the parking lot. While they were making preparations in the Cat Room, the windows began pouring water into the room.
“It was horrific, shocking is the only way I can describe it. It was like a flash flood that came on all of a sudden, it just swept through here,” Davis said.
A water line can be seen throughout the shelter facilities, and even on the outside, marking the water level. The team had to spring into action fast, some dogs were taken out by a kayak rescue team, while other dogs sought refuge on the second floor of the barn out back.
“No employee (were injured) and all animals are safe, so that’s the good news,” Executive Director, Steve Leach said, “The bad news is the shelter’s shot.”
On Tuesday, members of the team waded in waist deep water, hoisting dogs, cats, and their smaller animals out of the shelter. Stafford staff ensured that the animals had access to food while they were in the shelter, awaiting evacuation.
“It’s devastating—I mean the work we did, we thought we had come a long way and we were looking toward the future when this happened,” Leach said, “And it just derailed us. We don’t know where to go from here.”
Many animals found refuge at foster homes, local rescues, and even local boarding facilities—like Rob Greger and Anduril Kennels.
Greger got the call from his daughter at about 1:30 am, June 14th, that dogs were on the way to his kennel. Four dogs called Anduril Kennels home for a stint of time.
“They’ve had quite the adventure,” Greger said, “The four guys I have were taken out by swift water rescue in kayaks.”
Greger notes that the dogs in his care seem to be well adjusted, and events—like a flood—don’t inherently affect their emotions, but they do pick up on human stress.
“Everybody does their little bit and try to make it a little better world,” Greger said.
Three out of the four dogs will be relocated to a Missoula shelter, awaiting to start their new life, west of the Continental Divide.
With all animals at Stafford safe, in homes or shelters, the question remains: what will become of the shelter?
“We lost our boiler, the heating system, the surgical equipment, computers, electrical, it’s almost a complete loss,” Davis said.
Assessments will be made in the coming weeks, to determine if the staff will go ahead with renovation and rebuilding project for the shelter, or if they need to find a new location entirely.
If anyone wishes to help, a fundraiser is being thought up, but in the meantime, the staff recommends donating on their website.