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Long Island Animal Shelter Needs Help After Lightning Destroys Its Air Conditioning Unit


HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Thanks to Mother Nature, a Long Island animal rescue has been turned into a swelter shelter.

The air conditioning was knocked out Wednesday by a lightning strike, and now employees are looking for help to keep the animals safe, CBS2's Dave Carlin reported Sunday evening.

Water bowls need refilling more often than usual for the 300 cats of Little Shelter on Warner Road. The unit that fed cool air to them was destroyed by lightning Wednesday, just in time for the heat wave that has gripped the Tri-State Area for the last several days.

"We are taking blankets away from a lot of the shelves, so that they will lie on a cool surface," shelter volunteer Diana Cutolo said.

Little Shelter
A Long Island animal shelter is looking for donations after lightning took out its air conditioning unit. (Photo: CBS2)

The animals are getting half the usual space, kept darker and chilled only somewhat by donated fans and one portable a/c unit.

Employees showed Carlin what the storm did to the non-profit shelter.

"That tree across that's across the way did not have that scorch mark on it before the lightning hit it and then it looks like it traveled well down to here," shelter executive director David Ceely said.

A 7-foot stone memorial fountain was blown to bits.

"Pieces of it flew everywhere," Ceely said.

Rebuilding the fountain, however, is not the priority. Getting a new HVAC for cool air is. Insurance, however, won't cover a replacement, Ceely said.

Ceely priced out the cost of a replacement unit and the estimate is $20,000, Carlin reported.

A call for donations went out Wednesday and by the weekend Little Shelter was more than half way to a goal of $30,000 that includes money to rewire and get the phone system back.

Giving money is not the only way to help. Ceely is asking for the public to please adopt.

"This is 'Uno.' He's one of our special cats. What we're really hoping for, adoptions are always so helpful," Ceely said. "When you adopt you save two lives, the one that you adopt and the ones that we are going to be able to save because you made space for that."

Little Shelter also has 75 dogs housed in a separate area not damaged by the storm.

"There are such great dogs, such great cats here. Hopefully, they'll get homes soon," Massapequa resident Lori Harfenes said.

The best scenario: a stormy, hot week ends with animals finding families in a flash.

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