Evacuations are underway this afternoon at the Orphans of the Storm animal shelter near Kittanning where 80 cats and 90 dogs are being moved to higher, drier ground.
"We're being proactive," assistant shelter manager Beth Ann Galbraith said. "We're 95 percent certain the shelter will flood" as it has done repeatedly in the last 10 years during heavy, prolonged rain storms.
Email blasts went out last weekend seeking volunteers to move the animals. People stepped up, bringing trucks and trailers to move the homeless pets, Ms. Galbraith said. They're being moved 2-3 miles to Crytzer Equipment in Kittanning, which is owned by a member of the board of directors of Orphans of the Storm.
The shelter, located just outside Kittanning, is in a valley between a pond and a creek, Ms. Galbraith said. It't been located there since 1971, but flooding has only been a problem since 1971.
"The waters are creeping higher and closer," she said at 2 p.m. today, shortly before the evacuation began.
When the waters recede, the shelter will have to be cleaned before animals can be moved back in. The shelter always needs cat food and dog food, but after a flood cleaning supplies, including bleach, are always needed.
Both telephone lines at the shelter were constantly busy as a steady stream of callers offered aid. The number is 724-548-4520. Donations can be mailed to Orphans of the Storm, PO Box 838, Kittanning, 16201.
The WPHS and other animal welfare organizations are offering pet care tips during the storm, including advising that outdoor pets should be brought inside. Horses and other farm animals that spend most if not all of their time outdoors should have access to shelter and high ground.