, Derry, New Hampshire

June 13, 2013

Londonderry officials ponder pet shelter plans

By Julie Huss

---- — LONDONDERRY — Residents always have a town-operated safe shelter option if the power goes out during a storm.

Officials are now wondering what might happen to pets if they need a safe place to stay.

Londonderry operates an emergency shelter at the high school if a severe storm or power outage strikes, giving residents a warm place to stay, along with food and other supplies.

Officials are now looking into the best way to care for those residents’ pets.

That may come soon as the town considers a plan to create a special pet shelter at the high school.

“We had no shelter,” Acting Fire Chief Darren O’Brien said. “This has become a concern for many people.”

O’Brien said a proposal calls for the creation of a pet shelter at the high school for emergencies. Pets of all types would be housed at school in the lower level locker room area.

He said some towns have shelter plans in place, but he didn’t think there were many. Londonderry will now have a concrete way to protect not only its citizens, but also their pets.

Town Councilor Joe Green is the liaison to the Elder Affairs Committee. He said many people have wanted the town to have a plan in place to help shelter animals with their owners during a storm.

Green said it’s an issue he keeps hearing about from concerned residents.

“This issue keeps coming up, at least three of the last meetings at least,” he said. “More and more people said, ‘How can we get a pet shelter started?’”

Green said many times people will choose to stay in their homes during a storm or power outage because they don’t want to leave their pets behind.

O’Brien said he is familiar with many instances where people would not go to a safe shelter because they did not want to leave pets behind.

The new plan will keep people in the school’s gymnasium and their pets can come along. Trained volunteers and others with animal experience would staff the pet shelter.

O’Brien is now looking for people who are trained in animal care or have experience to sign up to be pet shelter volunteers.

He credited executive assistant Suzanne Roy for her hard work on the idea.

“She did a lot of research,” he said.

The pet shelter plan will go before Town Council for final approval.