Six months after devastating flooding, animal rescue is turning tragedy into triumph
By Caroline Hecker
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ST. LOUIS, Missouri (KMOV) — A St. Peters animal rescue shelter that endured devastating flooding and the tragic loss of 10 puppies is looking to the future.
Stray Paws Rescue sat underneath three feet of water last July, after more than a foot of rain fell in St. Peters overnight on July 26th.
Linda Roever, President of Stray Paws Rescue, walked along the nearby train tracks before wading into waist deep water to access the building early that morning.
“I got here right about the time the firemen did and we came in, we had one set of puppy pens here and of course, we lost them,” Roever said. “It was absolutely devastating.”
Roever said ten puppies perished in the floodwaters, with older dogs found standing in neck-deep water inside their crates, scared but alive.
“We will never put another dog in a crate again,” she said. “We’ve elected for these larger pens where everyone has an elevated bed and plenty of space.”
The building itself, which the non-profit rents, did not have flood insurance. Between three and four feet of drywall around the entire building was removed due to water damage, along with a complete overhaul of the electrical system, doors, floors and thousands of dollars in supplies and food.
“We actually came back stronger,” she said. “It was a big price to pay, but we had to make a decision, we either do this for the animals or we step back and let it go.”
The the immediate aftermath, dozens of volunteers helped clear out debris and other belongings that were not salvageable. Roever said firefighters with Central County Fire and Rescue helped clear three dumpsters worth of waterlogged debris out of the building.
Countless others donated their time, energy and resources to helping the non-profit rebuild.
“We were so blessed by the donations and all the people that came into help, it was so unbelievable,” she said.
By Halloween, the rescue reopened its doors to animals, housing 15 dogs at a time. Despite their setback, the non-profit helped more than 800 animals get adopted in 2022.
Roever said she’s investing in new technology, including cameras in every room, so she and other volunteers can monitor what is going on at the shelter at all times.
“We are getting floor censors put in so if there’s any water on the floor we know right away that something is going on,” she said.
The volunteers have also created an emergency plan in the event of adverse weather. That way, she said, all of the dogs will have designated homes to stay in and away from the shelter.
“A few weeks ago when they were calling for snow, I packed my bags and was ready to stay the night because I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get here in the morning,” she said. “Thankfully, it wasn’t necessary because we didn’t end up getting that much.”
With the building back better than before, Roever said she’s in need of foster families and puppy food, which is in short supply due to the nearly two dozen puppies currently at the shelter awaiting foster homes.
To donate or learn more about fostering and adoption, visit straypawsrescue.com or call 314-254-3466.
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