Animal Control Reunited Pets, Pet Owners After Flooding

(TNS) – Trapped at the rapidly rising seas during the month’s flood, a single horse stranded within a barn on Linden Drive at Royalton Township stood in hot water for two weeks before aid could get to the stranded creature.

The proprietors of the property were at a loss about how to get to the horse. But fortunately, the Berrien County Animal Control and coast guard were there to lend a hand, rescuing the horse and bringing it securely to a refuge, where food and warm blankets were in abundance.

The horse was among over 60 animals rescued during the flood and brought into a shelter. While it had been a trying time for officials included, Berrien County Animal Control Director Tiffany Peterson said she had been awed by the job animal control officials, their partnerships with local authorities and the community of Berrien County.

“We all worked together and all hands were on deck,” Peterson stated. “I had been impressed by the community service. I truly wanted to provide a big thank you for the community”

Since the rain continuously pelted southwest Michigan the past month, both Peterson and her staff started preparing with the Emergency Operations Center that will assist the county’s residents and animals that would soon be captured by rising flood waters if they didn’t act fast.

Partnering with the county’s government, Peterson said groups were deployed around Berrien County with the assignment of warning people to flee and bringing the region’s pets into a safe, dry location.

At River Springs Estates Parks and Shamrock Park at Berrien Township, animal control officials waded through rising oceans to knock on doors, ordering people to flee and offering to take pets into a safe refuge. They entered some homes where nobody had been present, but critters were certainly immobilized. Peterson said a few of her officers grabbed their very own kayaks and stick out into the hardest hit areas to save pets.

“I am so proud of my staff,” Peterson stated. “You don’t know. They worked great and busted their butts to work 10- to 12-hour times and nobody complained.”

There was no area for the pets at the Berrien County Animal Shelter at Benton Harbor, so officials opened Berrien County’s former animal refuge on Huckleberry Road at Berrien Springs. The shelter building was shut but has remained operational and had working power, water and heat.

Peterson said they gave additional hours about five additional part-time workers to help operate the shelter at Berrien Springs.

The animals rescued were largely cats and dogs, a few Guinea beans, the horse and a drifting pig which officers were able to catch.

Since the animals started to fill out the shelter space so too did contributions by the Berrien County community. Peterson said food, blankets, clutter, dishes, towels and lots of other items were donated.

Additionally, seven Berrien County restaurants hosted a Give Back Nighttime for Our Furry Friends event to raise proceeds for its shelter. Thus far, Peterson said she’s received about $800 in Your Mark III. The other restaurants will be expected to produce their contributions in the times to come.

Pets were kept at the shelter till residents were able to work out their living situation and may take care of them again. As of Monday morning, Peterson said under a dozen critters have to be retrieved.

Peterson said many residents voiced gratitude to the animal shelter for rescuing their pets.

BJ Gardner, of Berrien Springs, was reunited with her cats once they were rescued from River Springs Estates.

Gardner was moved by the rescue which she wrote a letter to Peterson.

“Thanks so much. They’re my loved ones and so important for mepersonally,” Gardner mentioned. “Along with your kindness and calm understanding made it possible for me to relax and corral the wildest ones safely so they could be hauled to safety.”

Peterson himself had helped to save Gardner’s cats, a couple of which had become petrified and so were hiding under the bed.

Throughout the experience, Peterson said she believed Berrien County residents discovered a good deal more about just what the animal refuge does.

“People that would never come in here go to the shelter today,” Peterson stated. “I have tried to find out what we do and how much we wish to do for the public and they appreciate that. … I’ve got such a great crew. I couldn’t be more happy where I am at.”

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