Pets affected by Merrimack Valley gas disaster get a helping hand

METHUEN, MASS. (WHDH) - Just over a month after the Merrimack Valley gas disaster, more than 8,600 people are still without heat and pet owners are worried that falling temps could endanger the lives of their four-legged friends.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has formally requested that Nevins Farm continue to provide emergency pet shelter for anyone lacking heat or hot water, according to a release issued by the MSPCA.

As temperatures fall and October turns to November, Nevins Farm employees say they are preparing for even more requests for emergency shelter.

“It’s very possible now that the weather is turning cold that some animals — particularly those in trailers or whose families are riding this out at home with space heaters — may end up needing a place to stay until the infrastructure repairs are completed,” said Mike Keiley, director of adoption centers and programs at the MSPCA-Angell.

Efforts to restore gas to thousands of residents in the Merrimack Valley following September’s disastrous series of explosions and fires is now expected to stretch into December, officials announced Friday.

“We are ready to roll if necessary and we have the space and supplies necessary, thanks to the incredible outpouring of support we received in September,” said Meaghan O’Leary, director of the Noble Family Animal Care and Adoption Center at Nevins Farm.

More than 130 structures and five homes in neighborhoods in Lawrence, North Andover, and Andover were damaged or destroyed by fires and explosions on Sept. 13.

All 92 animals who originally sought shelter in the wake of the disaster have returned home to their families.

Anyone requiring emergency pet sheltering should first check with Columbia Gas for pet-friendly housing options, MSPCA officials said.

If this is not an option, animals may be brought to Nevins Farm for boarding between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. All pets must be vaccinated for rabies, distemper and kennel cough for dogs. For more information about the sheltering process, owners can call the adoption center at 978-687-7452 ext. 61.

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