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Humanitarians come to aid of humane society


Humane Society of the High Plains found itself in an unexpected jam this weekend when frozen pipes left the facility without water.

Panicked staff members, faced with keeping approximately 11 animals clean and nourished, knew they needed help. Fortunately, they didn't have to look far to find it.

Humane society supporters quickly caught wind of the situation via word of mouth and social media, and water donations began to flow in.

"You don't realize how important (water) is until you're without it for a few days," said assistant manager Ashley Schlyer. "With the animals needing water and (staff) needing to clean to keep them comfortable, it was very significant to have them donate the water."

The pipes froze at 5 p.m. Friday when the facility, located a few miles east of Hays on Old U.S. Highway 40, was preparing for the weekend.

It didn't take long for reinforcements to arrive.

Staff members and customers at Golden Q, 809 Ash, heard of the situation from a bartender who also works at the humane society.

"We just kind of gathered up a bunch of the regulars and the staff and just threw some money together," said Brady Herman, general manager at Golden Q. "Everybody kind of knew the severity of it, especially as cold as it was out."

The money was used to purchase gallons of water, which were delivered to the facility.

Meanwhile, the humane society's neighbor and longtime contractor Mel Karst was on the scene first thing Saturday morning. He discovered a large leak where a frozen pipe broke, and he knew the facility would have to be shut down. Staff assured him they could make it through Friday night, he said.

He invited staff to fill buckets of water for cleaning at his home, located less than a mile from the humane society.

"We called to check how many animals they had and what they would need for water," said Karst, owner of Karst Water Well Drilling, 2240 E. Eighth. "We did whatever we needed to do."

The humane society maintained its usual hours Saturday, from 1 to 5 p.m., but was forced to close Sunday. Water was restored to the building Monday afternoon.

A silver lining was the facility's animal census was relatively low at the time, Schlyer said.

Laundry had to wait, and staff had to clean mops at a Hays Laundromat, but other than that, the donations were enough for business as usual, Schlyer said.

"When it comes to animals, people are very generous," she said. "We definitely were very appreciative of it, and the animals, too -- although they can't say anything."