Large industrial fans were being used Friday to cool off more than 100 orphan dogs and cats at the Animal Welfare League after thieves destroyed the adoption center's main air conditioning units.
After an event Thursday night, organizers noticed the center felt hot and found the AC units damaged on the roof. One unit was completely broken, the other torn apart.
"The wires were cut and the copper piping and coils on the inside were stolen," said AWL manager Diane Spryka.
With the July heat, Spryka is scrambling keep the animals safe.
"We need the ventilation. We need the air circulating to have air exchanged for our animals," she said.
Some animals exposed to high temperatures for long periods of time could suffer from severe health consequences and even death, said Bridget Nolan, a volunteer at the shelter.
One of the AC units can be fixed, but the estimated cost for its repair is $20,000, an unaffordable price for the shelter on a tight budget.
"We need funds," said Spryka, near tears. "It saddens me because for 35 years we’ve been here to serve the community. Now the funds we receive that could be going directly to the animals will be used elsewhere to stabilize the units."
“Karma will come back to them I hope,” said Susan Naiden, Founder of Trio Animal Foundation, which is coordinating the fundraising effort to come up with the projected $25,000 cost to replace the stolen and damaged equipment.
A short-term fix late Friday buoyed the spirits of shelter staff. Donors had ponied up three temporary air conditioning units to help cool the shelter.
"Everyone has been warm and gracious," Spyrka communicated to a donor who telephoned the shelter, her voice trembling with emotion. "People really want to help, which is awesome. It’s a good thing. It sucks that it has to come this way though... We’ve been here 75 years. I’ve been here 38 years. I mean we’re just trying to do the right thing."
The damage to and theft of air conditioning units is not isolated. There's been a rash of damage to and thefts of central air and window units. Police say thieves are going after the copper tubing and selling it for cash.
Donations can be made at their website at AnimalWelfareLeague.com.