Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ottawa Humane Society building suffers damage after lightning strike

The Ottawa Humane Society on Champagne Avenue was struck by lightning last night, causing a temporary power outage and other electrical, telephone and computer-related damage to the 42-year-old building.

Members of the public were evacuated from the building after the lightning struck around 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday during a thunderstorm that hit various parts of the city. OHS staff had just finished the evening animal care rounds and were busy with end-of-day cleaning when the power went out, cutting the building's air conditioning and ventilation to the animal holding wards. Staff did the best they could to ensure animal safety, and an emergency electrician was called in to assist with restoring hydro. A temporary generator was rigged up, and several staff remained on site until well after midnight to troubleshoot the security system. As the phone system was knocked offline, an OHS rescue agent worked with the City of Ottawa to ensure we could still respond to animal-related emergency calls triaged through the city's call centre.

The lasting effects of the outage became evident this morning as the OHS phone system and computer network were both inoperable. Staff jury-rigged the phones to allow for handling of emergency calls, and technicians are currently on site to install a new network router and to reboot the phone system in order to return operations to normal as quickly as possible.

While the outage luckily had no effect on the animals, the cost of making the shelter functional again will top several thousand dollars.

The Ottawa Humane Society does not receive any government funding or funding from any animal welfare group, and relies solely on donations to help care for the over 11,000 animals that come through its doors every year. If you're looking to make a donation to help defray the costs of these damages, please visit our online giving pages.

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