Local shelter flooded with donations after boil water notice threatened animal’s water supply

Raga Justin

As Austin residents woke up Monday to the city-wide boil water notice, leaders at the Austin Pets Alive! animal shelter were already worried about the long days ahead. 

The no-kill shelter keeps each of its dogs and cats supplied with a full bowl of clean water at all times, a policy made difficult by the boil water notice, communications manager Katera Berent said. At any given moment, the shelter holds around 200 dogs and 300 cats at its
three locations.

“We just didn’t have the means to boil all the water necessary, at which point we made the decision to put the plea out into the community on our website and social media,” Berent said.

Berent said the initial goal on Monday was to just get through the day. They were not prepared for the response, which was “totally overwhelming,” Berent said. 

“It was absolutely amazing … there were people donating gallons and truck beds full of water,” Berent said. “There were offers that came in from people with over 500-gallon water tanks they wanted to drop off. People drove in from Houston, Dallas, San Marcos, just to bring these animals water.” 

Berent said by late Monday afternoon, the shelter ran out of storage space for water donations. Berent estimated the shelter currently has nearly 1000 gallons of water, providing its dogs and cats enough drinking water “for the foreseeable future.”

“That’s their life source, to always have replenishable water is so necessary,” Berent said. “They’re not able to speak for themselves and tell you what they need, so it’s our job to figure it out.”

Finance junior Jemma Nazarian said she donated bottles after seeing news articles about Austin Pets Alive’s cry for help. 

“I was just thinking of puppies not having water to drink and it made me so sad,” Nazarian said. “I was like, ‘I have to help them.’”

Neuroscience and Plan II honors sophomore Haven Erengil is currently fostering Amber, an Austin Pets Alive dog. She said boiling drinking water for even one dog can be difficult. 

“It’s really a big task,” Erengil said. “I can’t imagine having to do it with even more than two dogs.” 

The donations mean shelter employees and volunteers can spend less time boiling water and more time caring for the animals, Berent said. 

“To say we’re thankful for the community would just be such an understatement,” Berent said. “It really restores your faith in humanity, just because of how wonderful everyone is.”