UPDATE: Reporter Meg Farris said that portable air-conditioning units have arrived as the Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society Wednesday afternoon and were being set up. The units came from the Louisiana State Commissioner of Agriculture. Parish council members were hoping to avoid having to relocate hundreds of animals to temporary office spaces.
PLAQUEMINES PARISH - It was a race against time for workers at the Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society Wednesday. It's unclear how the air conditioning went out, but some say it shines a light on how bad in shape the building is.
Temperatures were in the 90's, so officials put out an urgent call for help and the community answered. People were in and out of PAWS all day, opening their hearts and their homes to furry friends in a bad situation.
"I'm just hoping what we brought helps out a little bit," said Ericka Fitzmorris. "Just to help out a little bit, not for the recognition for my own peace of mind."
"So we'll have four kittens until the end of the month," said Sherri Brown. "We love taking care of animals so this was something we had to do."
After weeks of struggles with equipment, shelter employees Wednesday found the air conditioning wasn't working.
"Every single room has no AC," said Jordan Dooley with PAWS.
Two kittens died overnight, possibly because of the heat. With an estimated fix time of about two weeks, hundreds were also in danger.
"We're here to save animals and when you have no control over something like that it's devastating," said Dooley.
"This is totally unacceptable," said Councilman Beau Black. "Everybody is out here sweating in 90-90 degree heat and these animals can't survive in that kind of environment."
The situation isn't entirely a surprise, since the building apparently has a history of problems.
"The building has settled, causing cracks in the roof, cracks in the sides," said Black.
Which is why the parish is suing the contractor, a five-year legal battle that's ongoing.
"The more we look into it, the more we see this has serious structural problems," said Parish President, Amos Cormier.
The focus now though is on what's inside the building.
"My concern right now is one getting these animals in an air conditioned spot in a temporary basis," said Cormier.
It's a priority shared by others as well, all who stepped in to help. A small gesture, the shelter says, helps in a big way.
"I see everybody coming together and I want to be part of it and I wanted to help out some," said Fitzmorris.
Officials are in the process of trying to figure out how to fix this situation. In the meantime, If you have any fans, water bottles, blankets, ice, any materials that may help cool the pets down, or if you'd like to open your home (temporarily) to a pet, more information can be found on the PAWS website.
You can also call them at 504-392-1601. Their address is 455 F. Edward Hebert Boulevard, Belle Chasse. Facebook page is under Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society.