Annette van der Watt – the adoption coordinator for the Aiken County Animal Shelter – said the shelter's main concern during the recent ice storm and power outage was keeping the animals as warm as possible.


“There's a very big misconception out there that because a dog has a fur coat, it's not going to get cold,” van der Watt said. “It's nothing but a myth. They get cold just like we do, so my stress factor was making sure the dogs and cats were warm enough.”


The shelter lost power on Wednesday, Feb. 12, and didn't regain power until this Wednesday. During that time, Chief Enforcement Offer Bobby Arthurs said the shelter was forced to close its doors last Wednesday and opened back up on Monday without power. Fortunately, the shelter had plenty of food and water for the animals.


“We were closed to the public but we still had to take care of these animals,” Arthurs said.


“We had to come in and feed them, clean the kennels, walk them and treat them. A lot of that work was done by flashlight or in the dark, and we did the best we could.”


Arthurs said the shelter got a generator on Monday but was still limited in what it could do. One of the more complicated issues was dealing with the large amount of laundry that accumulated over the five-day span.


On Monday, the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare reached out and allowed the shelter to do all of its laundry at the SPCA's facility.


Like many other businesses and agencies, Arthurs said the shelter was caught off guard by the ice storm that left tens of thousands without power last week and through much of this week.


“It really caught us by surprise, and we didn't realize how hard it was going to be to keep functioning without laundry and other important things that we need power for,” he said. “Next time, we'll be better prepared and have more flashlights and items that will make the experience a little easier.”


Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.