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Preston County Shelter, Pet Friendly

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TUNNELTON -

A gas outage in Preston County led to a shelter opening at Tunnelton Denver Elementary school Tuesday.

That shelter was pet friendly thanks to the Preston County Disaster Animal Response Team.

"I got the call at 5:30 a.m. this morning, and I was like, okay, they're setting up a shelter, there will be pets there. You're on, ready to go," said Laurie Johnson, PCDART Incident Commander.

When Laurie Johnson and the Disaster Animal Response Team walked into Denver Tunnelton Elementary they weren't sure how the day would unfold.

"It's kind of exciting and scary at the same time because we really haven't gone through something like this," she said. "We were really just trying to avoid hiccups and keep everything running smoothly."

After Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, animal response teams began popping up across the country after many four-legged friends were left behind.

The volunteer organization works through the office of emergency management and thanks to a grant has a fully stocked trailer capable of housing about 100 animals.

The organizations said the unit helps people as much as animals.

"This is a really good opportunity for people, because often people will not leave their home and animals behind," Johnson said. "This is their option. To leave and bring their animals along and not leave and worry about them at home."

Red Cross Volunteer Devra Deems and her dog Jetee understands that.

"To be perfectly honest, I couldn't come unless I brought my dog," said Deems whose dog accompanied Deem Tuesday. "I got permission to bring her and she is a registered therapy dog."