Animal Shelter Loses Heat

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EUGENE, Ore. — Some citizens are outraged over the loss of heat at a local animal shelter. They say the city and the employees at the First Avenue Shelter in Eugene aren’t doing enough to fix it.

The city says the shelter and the animals in it are definitely a priority to it and that’s why it’s been working to repair the heaters since day one.

A flurry of e-mails have been sent back and forth since animal advocates found out the shelter hasn’t had any heat since Jan. 28 and that the system hasn’t been working properly since September. Some people questioned why the issue hadn’t been dealt with sooner, but both the city and shelter say it has been. The facilities are old and they say they’re doing the best they can.

“I think it’s like when you buy a used house, you just don’t walk in the first day and replace everything. You try to see what works and is there more life left in this piece of equipment,” said Kelly Darnell, Eugene Animal Services Manager.

Though temperamental, the shelter’s heater wasn’t an issue until the day it completely shut off. That’s when managers say they scrambled to make sure all the animals were safe.

“The dogs that were smaller or had thinner coats were all moved to the Greenhill shelter. The remaining dogs here got extra food and warm blankets,” said Cary Lieberman, Executive Director at Greenhill Humane Society.

While temperatures outside for the past week had a low average of 36 degrees, the shelter said it wasn’t so cold inside.

“The temperature never dropped below 45 degrees and actually sat around 55,” Lieberman said.

A local vet agreed, saying while the conditions aren’t ideal, those numbers aren’t threatening for the ones left behind. While both sides may not see eye to eye on this issue, the shelter hopes none of this takes away from the bigger picture.

“What we really need is for people to come out for adoption, and things like this detract from that need, and really in the end is it hurts the animals,” Lieberman said.

One of the two overhead heaters is back up and running Tuesday. Maintenance workers are still waiting on parts to repair the second one.


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  1. jason marks says:

    an outraged e-mail isn’t even worth a dime a dozen.

    Maybe all the ignorant “Outraged” people can get over their with their time and check books and fix it themselves.

    Like money is free.

    45-55 degrees?

    Maybe we could get them some leather couches and new tv’s as well.

    Give me a stinkin break.

    1. Kimberly says:

      A few things: Big differences between people and animals. Domestic animals rely on humans for EVERYTHING. They shouldn’t have to make due because bureaucratic talking heads don’t want to spend money on a new heater.

      In the 2005 Architectural Needs Assessment (http://www.lanecounty.org/Departments/PW/Parks/LCAS/Documents/LC_Needs_Assessment_012306.pdf) Greenhill was a part of a workshop discussing goals for the shelter. Maintenance requirements were on that list of goals, so it’s not like they were unaware.

      According to their contract the County is responsible for the HVAC systems in that building. But they cannot fix something if it’s not reported to them correctly and in a timely matter. Whatever part they are waiting on, should of been ordered and received by now, if it would of been done in September when the initial heating problems arose.

      All cash donations go towards the purchase of vaccines, medications and veterinary care expenses. That is great, but the building is still in disrepair and some would like to know EXACTLY what is being done about it.

      We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”
      -Immanual Kant

      1. Postone says:

        And especially by his treatment of his fellow man Kimberly!

  2. Postone says:

    jason marks said it pretty well.

    I would only add that the temperatures aren’t that low. Even if we were still in the mid twenties outside these dogs and inside a building for goodness sakes! If they have a roof over their heads (and they do) those animals who are otherwise healthy are not going to be bothered one bit! If they have blankets to lie on they will be just fine!

    I don’t see any of you concerned citizens raising heck for the thousands of homeless people sleeping outside every stinking day!!! You people need to reconfigure your priorities!

  3. Tamara Barnes says:

    The point is here that not all the animals who were vulnerable were moved, nor did they ask the community for help. Greenhill volunteers reported very cold conditions, and not every dog had a coat or a blanket., including a senior dog that was “rescued” from beside the road nearly frozen to death.

    When LCAS had a need, they asked the community for help. Greenhill does not have a clue about how to do that. The donating businesses get a warm fuzzy for helping out and a tax write off. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. In other words, it would have cost the taxpayers ZERO if the City or Greenhill had enough good sense to ask the community for help.

    The arguments about not putting money into an old building are hogwash as an excuse. The damn thing could have been replaced in September.

  4. Kate says:

    I’m disappointed by the previous comments, as though concern and effort for homeless people negates the concern of maintaining standards in the taxpayer-supported effort to aid homeless pets.
    I agree we should be doing more to care for our homeless citizens as well. I am still concerned by the callousness with which every concern raised is met by those in charge.
    I have a well-insulated house, but my heating system is broken, too. I had ice in my water glass many mornings this winter. I lack a cozy fur coat, but fortunately have blankets and clothing I can bundle up in.
    Dogs living outside may be able to mitigate their discomfort by finding an enclosed “den space”. Those living in chain-link, concrete kennels are simply exposed. I agree it’s not the world’s biggest tragedy, but it should be fixed, and questions about it should not be dismissed with such blatant disregard.

  5. Kate says:

    Incidentally, one of the things I find most frustrating about this ongoing situation, is Mr. L’s response that such outcry “distracts from the need [for people to come out for adoption].” I think he’s assessed the situation exactly wrongly. More people are going to be motivated to get dogs out of there when they hear they’re living without heat or being denied adequate medical care.

  6. Morrigan says:

    Homeless people can talk for themselves. When it was below freezing and the warming centers were closed they spoke up and a change happened. These dogs have no way of telling people how bad they arr being treated at that shelter. The article says it never dropped below 45, but they news only asked the people who run it. Ask the volunteers! They’ll tell you it was at freezing. They’ll tell if senior dogs given no blanket, left in her kennel to freeze because most of her fur on her back was gone. Of course the paid staff will say everything is fine, but those who know what goes on at that shelter have the real story. That is what we should be reading here. As for adopting, yes that is what needs to happen, but not everyone lives in a place that allows pets. There is no promise money donated would go to heaters. These people lie Bout conditions there. Why would they be truthful about spending?

  7. Tamara Barnes says:

    We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form. ~William Ralph Inge, Outspoken Essays, 1922

    Ever occur to you why some of us can be this much concerned with animals suffering? Because government is not. Why not? Animals don’t vote. ~Paul Harvey

    We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace. ~Albert Schweitzer, The Philosophy of Civilization

    If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men. ~St. Francis of Assisi

  8. Lori Biletnikoff says:

    Bottom line is animals trust people to take care of them & not be stuck in a battle of whose right. Look at it from the animals point of view. They are scared, lonely & cold. How would the powers that be feel if they where in their paws relying on people to help them…

    1. Eugene says:

      No, the bottom line is that there is not a problem. Yes, the animals have to trust their caretakers, and in this case that trust was not broken. The vulnerable animals were moved, the others were provided with extra blankets, and everything was taken care of. NKLC needs examples of Greenhill malfeasance to push their agenda; that is the sole reason this issue is being reported on and discussed.

  9. Sonja says:

    Kelly Darnell and Cary Lieberman should be put in a kennel with extra blankets and food until the heaters are fixed.

  10. Eugene says:

    “Some people” are outraged at everything Greenhill does. This is just another molehill portrayed as a mountain by the wackos at No Kill Lane County. These are the people who who have sworn to replace the Greenhill management with their own hand-picked stooges; have invented stories about barrels full of dead puppies; and have threatened violence against Greenhill volunteers,

    This story is a perfect example of their tactics: a problem occurs, Greenhill makes an effort to correct the problem. and NKLC goes on the offensive with an email-writing campaign. Visit their Facebook page to see how they are asking their army of drones (mostly from out of state) to post comments on this page in support of their agenda. There is no substance to anything they claim.

  11. Jamie Amos says:

    It sure does seem that this is overblown. I looked at the facebook page and they are all incensed over Cary Leiberman’s use of the word “adequate” to describe the heat. They say that “adequate isn’t good enough” and then quote a definition of “adequate” as “barely sufficient”. That is absurd, since adequate” literally means “sufficient”. Someone clearly is trying to do a hatchet job on Green Hill.

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