NEW CANAAN — “What I need is water.”
So said Animal Control Officer Allyson Halm of the New Canaan Police Department when asked about what it would take to reopen the animal shelter for strays.
The shelter, which is located in the New Canaan transfer station and is a section of the New Canaan Police Department, was forced to shut off its water supply after the extreme weather froze some of the pipes in the last days of December and into January.
William Oestmann, the superintendent of buildings, said he would be turning the water back on in the shelter Wednesday afternoon.
“With the subzero temperatures the heat can’t keep up so we have to shut the water off,” Oestmann said. “There are no scheduled changes to the building but the animal control office has a contingency plan if it happens again.”
Halm said that anything can happen with the extreme weather and that the winter storm took her by surprise.
“The pipes never broke but we do have to give a chance for them to thaw so we have a functioning building,” Halm said.
The shelter has had a bit of luck despite the frozen pipes. According to Halm, the shelter hasn’t received any stray animals since the building closed.
“People have been staying warm at home with their animals so we haven’t had any lost pets,” Halm said. “There were some reports about stray wild animals but we never located any of them.”
The New Canaan Veterinary Hospital usually takes care of injured animals brought to them by animal control officers but none have been brought in this week.
By state law, the shelter must hold a found pet for seven days. After that, officers in the animal control department try their best to re-home the animal or ask local animal welfare agencies for assistance.
It’s rare for the water supply to be turned off but the weather can prove to be a challenge.
“The building is over a hundred years old and this was the second time in about 20 years that I had to shut off the water in the building,” Oestmann said.
The Animal Control Shelter hosts an average of about 80 animals a year, a number much smaller than those or larger towns like Stamford, according to Halm. The officer added that the garage at the police department now has a crate where animals if any are collected, can be taken to for the time being.
“We only handle stray animals, so we’re very lucky that the occasional stray animal is returned to the owner very quickly,” Halm added. “This is just a holding facility, it’s not designed for a long-term shelter.”