Shelter races to keep cats cool after lightning destroys AC right before heatwave

A heatwave struck much of the country this week, with temperatures in many areas reaching over 100 degrees. With the heat reportedly responsible for at least six lives, t’s been important for everyone to keep cool—and that goes for animals, too, who are susceptible to deadly heat stroke when temperatures get too high.

So a Long Island shelter had a catastrophe on their hands when their air conditioning was destroyed right before the heat wave struck, leaving them struggling to keep their cats healthy and cool.

But thanks to their hard work, and the kindness of strangers, crisis was averted.

Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center, a nonprofit no-kill shelter in Huntington, New York, was hit with a serious storm last Wednesday. According to CBS New York, a 7-foot stone memorial statue was blown to pieces by a lightning strike.

But even worse, the lightning also knocked out the shelter’s HVAC system, leaving their cat shelter without air conditioning.

The system would cost $20,000 to replace. And the timing couldn’t have been worse: a heatwave was set to hit the area that weekend.


With no cool air for the 300 cats in their care, the shelter was forced to improvise fast to keep the cats safe from the heat.

The space was kept darker, and people donated fans, and a single portable AC unit, to help mitigate the damage by cooling the shelter at least somewhat.

“We are taking blankets away from a lot of the shelves, so that they will lie on a cool surface,” shelter volunteer Diana Cutolo told CBS New York.


While muddling through the heat and keeping the cats’ water bowls filled, the shelter asked for donations to help them raise funds to repair the damages.

They set a $30,000 goal, to purchase a new HVAC, rewire and repair their damaged phone system.

🚨 URGENT: Lightning Strikes Damage To Little Shelter In HuntingtonDuring the massive thunderstorm brought on from the…

Posted by Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center on Saturday, July 20, 2019

In addition to donations, the shelter also emphasized another way to help: donate the cats out of the shelter.

“Adoptions are always so helpful,” shelter executive director David 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.”

The shelter also has 75 dogs, though luckily they weren’t affected by the AC outage.


Amazingly, people came through to help the cause: on Tuesday afternoon, Little Shelter announced that they had surpassed their $30,000 fundraising goal.

“We are blown away by the outreach we’ve received from our local community and beyond,” they wrote in a Facebook post. “It’s incredible to see all the people who have come together on behalf of the animals to make sure that we can get back up and running as quickly as possible.”

“We are very grateful that the heat wave finally broke and want to report that all our animals are doing fine.”

😻 THANK YOU! 😻 – To everyone who has donated, shared, and supported Little Shelter during recent events. We are blown…

Posted by Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center on Tuesday, July 23, 2019

With the shelter back up and running smoothly, they can continue their hard work finding these animals forever homes.

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

Animal shelters do such important work. Share this uplifting story!