The owner and founder of Seva Dog Rescue wasn’t expecting to see the nonprofit’s newly built playground area’s roof collapse from the overwhelming amounts of snow and ice on Jan. 16.
Mandy Cracknell says now, the way of life for the dogs at Seva Dog is “out of the norm” —which concerns her and her husband, who also helps run the rescue.
“It was really hard because it took us several years to save up for that [playground] — it was just put up three months ago,” Cracknell says. “We were so happy and so proud. And then it was just destroyed. It was heartbreaking.”
Within the past week of tumultuous, cold and icy weather, Lane County residents struggled with losing power and staying away from the path of falling trees. Nonprofits like Seva Dog Rescue and Cascades Raptor Center, which account for animals as well as humans, struggled too.
Now, they’re trying to figure out when normal operations will resume and when to open for business again.
Cracknell says that two other dog tents, typically used for playtime on rainy days, were destroyed too. A sanctuary for smaller dogs inside the rescue partly collapsed, leaving the dogs open to ice and rainwater leaking down into their beds.
The dogs “need to stay warm. It’s essential. Staying dry is essential because when you’re wet, you’re miserable. So, keeping them dry and warm is the basic necessity we need to survive. It’s a worry,” Cracknell says, adding, “Now no one can go out and play because it’s just not safe.”
Cracknell says the first priority moving forward after the storm is getting the little dog sanctuary fixed, which requires getting parts of the roof fixed. A tarp hangs over the roof now, but Cracknell says “it’s not doing the trick” — because water continues to seep into the room.
She says she’s worried that the room will eventually flood, which is pushing her to get the roof fixed sooner rather than later.
Since the storm, Cracknell says the dogs have been having trouble staying primarily inside for the most part — she says the main mission of Seva Dog is to give their dogs “natural, get-to-nature time” — meaning giving them the ability to run around the backyard and play with each other.
“Having your home destroyed is hard as a human. As a dog, I can’t even imagine. You don’t have the mentality to even figure it out — you have to go with the flow and hope your humans will keep you safe,” Cracknell says.
On the opposite side of town, Cascades Raptor Center has been dealing with similar issues due to the recent storm. The collapse of two aviaries has caused its raptors to seek shelter in other areas of the center, much like the dogs at Seva Dog.
The same day Seva Dog’s play area roof collapsed, CRC trainers, including Carrie Lorenz, arrived at work to find the two destroyed aviaries, as well as downed power lines, fallen tree debris and washed-out trailheads.
While walking around the center to check the damage, Lorenz witnessed one of the trees falling and ultimately destroying an aviary — that of Atticus, a bald eagle that is one of the resident birds.
Lorenz says that just before the crash, she had sent a text to her co-workers that the birds were safe. Less than a minute later, Lorenz says, she and her co-worker heard the “huge crash.”
“It was the tree that, as we had walked up to the property, we both looked at it and thought, ‘Wow, that tree is leaning really far over.’”
Lorenz says five minutes previous, she had yelled at the tree to “stay up there!”
“It didn’t listen,” Lorenz says.
Atticus wasn’t hurt by the crash, and Lorenz and her co-worker were able to secure him within 10 minutes. Though he was in shock for a while, Lorenz says Atticus calmed down within the hour after the crash.
Currently, some of the birds like Atticus are sheltering in assessment aviaries — which are aviaries typically left empty in case a bird needs to move in it for any reason.
Jullie Collins, executive director of CRC, says the nonprofit has no electricity right now, which could pose an issue for the raptors. She says propane was recently delivered to help continue to freeze the birds’ food, ensuring they’re able to be fed their regular meals.
But before opening back up to the public again, which CRC hopes is sometime in February, Collins says that powerlines and power holes must be installed by Lane Electric Co-Op.
The two nonprofits say the Eugene community showed up big when they posted about what happened during the storm. CRC has received roughly 800 donations and a plethora of volunteers who say they miss the raptors.
Seva Dog Rescue has had several volunteers reach out, including Sigma Lambda Beta UO, a fraternity from the University of Oregon that helped clean up the debris from the storm. Cracknell says one of the fraternity members, Danny Gomez, is looking to write grant letters for the nonprofit to get money for repairs.
“We can’t explain to animals the way we can to each other: this is a situation and this is what happens, so I’m sure it was quite fearful for [Atticus]. But he’s doing very well,” Collins says.