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On March 15, a sleepy night in Beaumont, Texas, the community was suddenly awakened by the news of a horrible fire. The Humane Society of Southeast Texas (HSSET) shelter had been engulfed by flames and heavy black smoke due to a faulty electrical outlet caused a fire to break out, quickly spreading to other areas of the shelter.
Local Beaumont fire fighters, law enforcement, staff members, volunteers, and community members went above and beyond the call of duty, risking their own lives to save cats and dogs inside the burning shelter. Though 38 pets were rescued in the three-hour long rescue effort, 74 beloved dogs perished in the fire.
Despite the heartbreaking losses, the Humane Society of Southeast Texas mobilized to help pets in need, just as it has done for over 45 years as the largest humane organization in the region.
“We were graciously overwhelmed by the amount of support that we received after the fire,” said HSSET PR & Development Director Monica Lee. “The support from all over Texas was uplifting and gave us the willpower to continue to push through and serve our community even in our darkest hour.”
HSSET reached out for assistance to PetSmart Charities®, which provided an immediate in-kind donation of shelter supplies including kennels, crates, food and grooming supplies worth $15,000. In a second grant, PetSmart Charities donated $70,000 to help build a temporary shelter until funds are raised to build a new shelter campus in a new location.
Today, that temporary shelter continues to serve the community as a sanctuary for 145 cats and dogs as well as hosting numerous humane education programs and affordable spay and neuter surgeries for the public. HSSET also partners with 12 local city animal control units to provide a second chance for animals facing euthanization.
“Since its inception, the pound puppy program has successfully rescued and found homes for over 500 animals. It is truly a blessing!” said Lee.
Seventy-four white crosses rest adjacent to the burned building honoring the lives that were lost and reminding staff and volunteers of the many number of lives they have yet to save.
While there is still work to be done to bring the shelter back to its normal operating capacity, the Humane Society of Southeast Texas continues to advocate for pet adoption within its community. On Saturday, October 22, the organization invited members of the community to the FALL IN LOVE ADOPT-A-THON – its first event at the shelter since the fire.
“We wanted the event to be a celebration of the continuation of the good work of the Humane Society of Southeast Texas,” Lee said. “We have a ton of awesome adoptable pets that are looking for their forever homes. While we mourn the lives we lost, we celebrate the wonderful adoptable pets that we have at the shelter, as well as HSSET and PetSmart Charities vital role in leading the community towards a brighter, more humane tomorrow.”