Animal shelter, RI vet praised for keeping pets safe during gas outage


    The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is praising the work of an animal shelter that kept more than 100 pets safe during a gas outage on Aquidneck Island.

    The Potter League for Animals in Middletown is used to seeing animals leave the shelter.

    But last week, they greeted a constant stream of pets being brought there due to the outage.

    “Everyone dropping them off was really just very thankful that they had a place for them to go because most of them who were coming here were going to a place where they couldn’t bring their pets,” Potter League for Animals Executive Director Brad Shear said.

    DEM said they couldn’t have done it without State Veterinarian Scott Marshall, DVM, who acted quickly to help keep the animals safe.

    A press release noted that Marshall had previously organized a pet sheltering plan that designated the Potter League and shelters in Westerly, South Kingstown, and Pawtucket to be emergency shelters. He secured funding to supply the shelters with extra supplies.

    “I reached out to the Potter League to ask them to open with the expectation that there may be a need to shelter pets,” said Marshall. “Much credit to Brad Shear and Amy Chamard (the Potter League’s Director of Operations) and their staff. They were forward-leaning on this and already making preparations while awaiting the ‘official word’ from me to open.”

    More than 7,100 Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth residents lost gas service on Jan. 21, with Gov. Gina Raimondo urging them not to stay in their homes without heat or hot water.

    Residents headed to warming shelters but couldn’t take their pets with them.

    Once news of the outage spread, the Potter League began preparing for an influx of animals. In all, 101 pets were brought there.

    “It wasn’t easy to fit them all. There might be three dogs from one house so we have very large rooms that the animals can stay in so those animals can stay in one place.

    Coincidentally, The Potter League had reached out to the state veterinarian earlier in the month to do a presentation on how to respond to an emergency.

    “We have seen that one we have this fantastic staff and group of volunteers who will step up when we need to,” Shear said. “This was a really a test of a plan that’s been in place for a long time. We’ve never been tested like this before. And we have a good sense for what we can handle.”

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