Every winter, 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. The animal shelter committee is also 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.”
Right now, the furnace is located just before the dog kennel at the front 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, Nixon said the committee decided to fix some of the more pressing problems, such as the heating system.
The committee contacted Benvenuti Oil to ask for 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.”
Nixon said the committee is trying to obtain donations for new swing doors to install in the kennels to 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.