The cats’ anguished cries echoed through my headphones as I watched a YouTube video shared in an emergency cat-mojo Facebook alert early Thursday morning.
“You’d better wear boots if you’re gonna go in there,” says a voice behind the camera as the video shows a water-soaked floor and a set of nine cages, presumably for sick cats or new arrivals.
And then, as volunteers take cat after cat out of the shelter’s facility, an exhausted Katrin Hecker explains that this is what remains of Animalkind, a shelter that occupied the basement and bottom two floors of a three-story building in the New York town of Hudson.
The blaze started in a mattress in an apartment on the top floor, Hecker told the videographer. Although the sprinkler system put out the fire before the flames could spread to the floors where Animalkind kept its 120 free-roaming cats, the water damage was so severe as to make the shelter uninhabitable.
"It’s in really bad shape," Hecker said. "The sprinkler system went on, which is good, but then it soaked everything and went all the way to the basement. There was four inches of water on each floor and the ceilings are wet and falling. It’s just a nightmare."
The Warren Inn, located just down the street from the shelter, has provided some temporary space. The Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA has taken some of the felines, and volunteers have stepped forward to foster some of the Animalkind kitties.
Animalkind is also looking for farms to house the feral cats it cares for through its TNR programs.
If you live in or near Hudson, N.Y., Hecker says volunteers are welcome to come and help with cleanup and relocation efforts today and tomorrow (Friday, May 4, and Saturday, May 5) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The shelter’s phone system is down, so the best way to contact Hecker is by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to foster homes and volunteers to help clean up the mess, Animalkind is in desperate need of donations. Hecker says the shelter literally lost everything. “We need you now! Otherwise our existence is uncertain,” Animalkind’s website says.
Animalkind still plans to participate in a National Adoption Weekend event at the Greenport PetSmart store’s adoption center. Please give them a hand by adopting some of the kitties in their care. All Animalkind cats are spayed or neutered, microchipped, and vaccinated, and come with a free month of pet health insurance.
According to a story in the Catskill, N.Y., Daily Mail, Hudson Fire Commissioner Tim Hutchings says the fire was most likely caused by a cigarette. Yup, that’s right: 120 cats are homeless and an animal rescue group’s future is uncertain because some jackwagon passed out while smoking in bed.
If you want to see the video I mentioned at the beginning of this story — and from which all the images in this post came — here you go:
(In a reader? Watch the video here.)