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Fire & Ice

The season that brought the worst ice storm in decades to Massachusetts brought the worst bushfires in history to the Australian state of Victoria. In this double feature, two shelter staff who worked through the disasters tell their stories, and emphasize the value of being prepared.

The season that brought the worst ice storm in decades to Massachusetts brought the worst bushfires in history to the Australian state of Victoria. In this double feature, two shelter staff who worked through the disasters tell their stories, and emphasize the value of being prepared.

Fire

The shelter’s first burn victim, Happy the blue heeler, recovers at the facility. ANIMAL AID
Located in the town of Coldstream in the state of Victoria, Australia, Animal Aid is a nonprofit animal shelter that handles more than 5,000 animals each year; most are stray or surrendered cats, dogs, or “pocket pets.” We also have a veterinary clinic and pet boarding facility on site. Victoria is in the southeastern corner of the Australian mainland; Melbourne, our second-largest city, is located here.

Bushfires in Australia are a regular and often frightening phenomenon. Our shelter is in an area of the country that endures an annual fire season, during which drought and extreme temperatures raise the fire hazard level enormously. The vegetation and climate of our state are comparable to areas of California, and during our fire season, no one wonders whether bushfires will happen—we only wonder when, where, and how bad they’ll be.

Ice

The ice storm left beautiful scenes across Massachusetts, but dealing with the cleanup wasn’t as pretty. BUCKLAVA/FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS
The worst ice storm in decades hit our community in Central Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire last Dec. 11. Nearly a million homes and businesses throughout New England faced a week or more without electricity in single-digit temperatures after a rare combination of low pressure, moist air, and cold, powerful winds produced a punishing ice storm that swept through the region, felling countless power lines and trees and closing hundreds of roads.

Our shelter—Sterling Animal Shelter Inc. of Sterling, Mass.—was smack in the middle of this storm and had a full kennel of 47 dogs and puppies, multiple nursing moms with kittens, and dozens of cats and kittens awaiting adoption.

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