A dozen dogs already seeking a permanent home have been temporarily displaced from Kent Animal Shelter after an oil burner mishap this morning forced an evacuation, which also sent four employees to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.
According to Nancy Swett, a spokeperson for the nonprofit, a crack in the heat exchanger of the oil burner inside the kennel caused a large puff back around 8 a.m.
“It wasn’t an old piece of equipment,” she said. “It just runs a lot in the building.”
Employees went back into the building to get the dogs out in the wake of the incident.
“It could have been much worse,” said Ms. Swett. “Luckily nothing caught on fire.”
For the past few years, the River Road shelter has been in the process of attempting to build a brand new facility but has run into a roadblock seeking a waiver necessary for the project. The property is located in the Pine Barrens Core Preservation Area, which heavily restricted development after the Pine Barrens Act was enacted in the early 1990s. Kent’s facility is nearly 50 years old and advocates have said the new project would be a large improvement over the nonprofit’s current aged infrastructure.
The 12 dogs that were evacuated from the kennel have since been transferred to Riverhead Animal Hospital at the intersection of Mill Road and West Main Street. They’re expected to be there for the rest of the week.
“They kind of needed the space last minute,” said Rachel Williams, an employee with RAH. “And we have plenty of room, so it’s no problem.”