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Rescue Rebuild Helps Put the Pieces Back Together After Hurricane Irma

By Chris Coulter, Rescue Rebuild Program Manager

September 2017 proved to be a horrific time for those residing in the Caribbean and mainland United States. Category 5 Hurricane Irma swept through leaving a wake of destruction, causing over 66 billion dollars’ worth of damage. Homes, buildings and shelters were all damaged or destroyed. The Florida Keys SPCA in Marathon, Florida was one of these damaged shelters. They once had nice outdoor play yards and pens for the animals to get sun and exercise with huge, mature trees providing shade. However, when Hurricane Irma blew through these 100+-year-old trees were completed uprooted, falling and destroying all of the SPCA’s fencing, pens, and kennels.

Thankfully, the building wasn’t damaged, but they no longer had any outside fencing, the pens were gone, and the outdoor play yard was no more. Rescue Rebuild couldn’t leave these four-legged friends completely cooped up inside, so we came up with the solution—Florida Keys SPCA were getting an all-new play yard, six outdoor playpens with double containment, and an isolation pen. So many holes the needed digging! Just under 100 holes to be exact. It didn’t take long for us to run into our first obstacle….

The ground was nothing but coral rock! We were expecting dirt but found only rock. Our shovels and post hole diggers weren’t going to help us at all. Every hole had to be dug with a 60lb jackhammer which left everyone incredibly sore by the end of the day. Each hole was a minor victory, but eventually, all were dug and ready to start setting posts and running chain link fence. Post by post, section by section, and gate by gate we were getting closer to the finish line.

Once all the pens and kennels were finished, the sun sails had to go up! Just because the trees blew away doesn’t mean that the dogs were going to lose their shade. Bright, multi-colored sun sails were installed giving all the dogs shade and really brightening up the shelter.

We weren’t finished yet! Next, a small enclosure was built to house rabbits and other small animals that we couldn’t accommodate with the cats. Not only dogs and cats receive care at this shelter, and we wanted to make sure they had all the necessary facilities to help the other animals out.

Storage was a big concern. They had a storage container; however, we wanted to build shelves on both sides, inside making it more efficient and organized. We coated the roof making it watertight and gave it a fresh coat of paint on the outside as well. The final project was putting up colorful partitions on all the inside kennel doors giving all the dogs their privacy which keeps the barking to a minimum. This may not sound like much but when dogs are confined inside, and there’s a lot of barking the dogs get nervous and on edge. This leads to bad behavioral problems and can quite possibly keep a dog from being adopted.

Florida Keys SPCA is now up and running again! They are now able to take the dogs outside and release all that pent-up energy! Not only are the animal’s spirits lifted in this remarkable transformation but so are the members of the Florida Keys SPCA and the community! Slowly but surely the Florida Keys are rebuilding one house, one building and one shelter at a time and become even better than its former self.