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Only You (and Up-to-Code Fire Standards) Can Prevent Shelter Fires

Jacksonville Humane Society
Florida’s animal shelters are all too accustomed to coping with the annual spate of hurricanes that sweep over the region. But disaster recently came in a different form to the Sunshine State, where two shelters were severely damaged by fires that broke out on the premises and killed dozens of animals.

Along with more than 30 cats and seven dogs, Seminole County Animal Services lost the back section of its building, which housed small dogs and feral, quarantined, and stray cats; the agency also lost offices, an examination room, a storage area, and the garage area where officers unloaded stray animals, says shelter supervisor Mary Beth Lake. The shelter is still operating four months later, Lake says, “but techs are working on top of techs, and staff are crammed into a much smaller space.”

A fire at the Jacksonville Humane Society in April was more severe. Leona Sheddan, the new executive director, got a call in the middle of the night informing her that the shelter had burned to the ground and all the animals had died. “It was the worst moment of my life,” she says.

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