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Donating The Gift Of Warmth To The Waterford-East Lyme Animal Shelter

Local businesses and the continued determination of the group dedicated to building a new Waterford-East Lyme Animal Shelter come together to ensure water bowls in the shelter no longer freeze.

Right now, in the wintertime, water bowls for the dogs in the Waterford-East Lyme Animal Shelter freeze. The heating system does a great job of heating the front kennel, and that’s about it, Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control Officer Robert Yuchniuk said.

But that is about to change. has secured donations of both supplies and labor to fix the shelter’s heating system at no cost to the taxpayers.

“We don’t see a new shelter coming immediately,” Waterford Police Lt. Jeff Nixon said, who oversees the animal control division and is a member of the animal shelter committee. “So we want to make the shelter humane, and have some comfort for the animals that are there.”

Waterford’s has agreed to install new heating ducts throughout the shelter, and has donated much of the supplies to complete the work. Also, the animal shelter committee is looking to raise money to install new swing doors on the kennels, to keep the kennels warmer, Yuchniuk said.

“We all have dogs or pets, and we try to give back a little to the community,” Marc Mazzella of Benvenuti Oil said. “We are a local business, we want to help out.”

The Problem

Right now, the furnace is located just before the front dog kennel of the animal shelter, and the thermostat is located right across from it. The furnace just heats the front area where the thermostat is, and leaves the back kennels mostly unheated, Yuchniuk said.

Yuchniuk does use space heaters to heat the back kennels, but those aren’t always effective and are expensive to run, he said. Also, each kennel has up-and-down doors to its outside section, and those doors have to always be open when a dog is in one, so the cold air rushes in, Yuchniuk said.

The animal shelter committee has been raising money for two years for a new animal shelter, but Waterford First Selectman Dan Steward has said there won’t be any town funding . Rather than wait, the committee decided to fix some of the more pressing problems with the shelter in the interim, like the heating system, Nixon said.

The committee contacted Benvenuti Oil and asked if they would help, and the oil company “immediately said yes,” Mazzella said. The committee also secured most of the materials from Home Depot in Waterford for free, with Benvenuti supplying the rest.

“Basically, they said we could walk down the aisle (of Home Depot) and fill up a shopping cart,” Mazzella said. “And all of it would be for no cost.”

Mazzella said it will probably take two guys working two days at the shelter to run duct work throughout the building, which will better disperse the heat in the building. All of the labor and supplies will be donated, he said.

“It just takes a little bit of labor,” Mazzella said, speaking modestly. “We would have helped them out even more.”

Also, Nixon said the committee is trying to get donations to get new swing doors put in at the kennels, so they would keep the heat in better. The doors cost about $150, and there are 10 kennels, Yuchniuk said. If anybody wants to donate, they should see Yuchniuk, Nixon or any of the members of the Animal Control Facility Study Ad-Hoc Committee.

Paul Petrone (Editor) September 10, 2012 at 11:18 AM
Also as an add-on, I found out yesterday that when it gets really cold, all the little dogs (and many of the big ones too) have to wear sweaters. Which is both sad and adorable.
Jessica Hamilton September 10, 2012 at 11:34 AM
I personally have seen the frozen water bowls..and to imagine the ice cold wind blowing on the dogs all night long..to imagine them shaking, in an already unfamiliar and scary place breaks my heart beyond words..This gift of heat is not just a gift of heat..it is a gift of security, of safety, and of love for the animals..From someone who is a voice for the animals, thank you, to all who were involved in making this happen.
Kathy Waszczak September 10, 2012 at 12:02 PM
This is an awesome show of kindness and generosity from merchants in the Waterford and New London area, thank you to everyone who helps make this happen.
Edna Silva September 10, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Thank you so much Benvenuti Oil and Home Depot. This just goes to show how many animal lovers are out there and how many of us want an improved shelter. This committee and our animal control officer do an excellent job.
BJ September 10, 2012 at 05:02 PM
This just shows what a community can do WITHOUT the government. This allows people to support what they believe in, without forcing others to support what they do not believe in. We need MORE of this, not less.
Lisa Przybyl September 10, 2012 at 11:43 PM
I have lots of old bedspreads and blankets, could you use them? I hope Chewey got a good home, even if it wasn't mine!
Deb Moshier-Dunn September 11, 2012 at 01:08 AM
I think it is shameful for the towns of East Lyme & Waterford to treat its animals this way for so many years. Lots of credit goes out to Benvenuti Oil & Home Depot and the group of caring people who are volunteering their time & efforts to take better care of these lost, scared, dependent creatures. If I hadn't just switched to Benvenuti Oil I would have today!

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