Close call at Pet Refuge after heavy rain

MISHAWAKA, Ind. — The heavy down pours Saturday were inches away from turning disastrous for one local animal shelter. Pet Refuge no-kill animal shelter on 6th Street in Mishawaka started flooding right around 4:30 p.m. right before the volunteer staff was going home for the day.

Now that St. Joseph County is in a flood warning volunteers at the shelter are concerned that flooding could happen again and this time it could be deadly.

Saturday afternoon the rain water started pouring in the back of the building. The waterwas between 5 to 6 inches deep and some of the smaller breeds were half way submerged in water when the staff realized what was going on.

Linda Geyer a Pet Refuge Volunteer said, "It rained so fast so much that it came from the back of the building from the back parking lot because the drains could not take in the water fast enough. It just started flooding the main dog room, the dog infirmary, even the middle room where we have adoptions and it even started coming into the main office."

Geyer says it was pure coincidence volunteers were still in the building when the flooding started Saturday around 4 p.m., an hour after adoption hours end.

"A couple of us were hanging around because it was raining so hard. We didn't want to go out to our cars, so luckily we were here," said Geyer.

She thinks the situation may have ended very differently if they volunteers weren't at the shelter as the water gusted in and ultimately rose to right around 5 inches.

Geyer said, "The water was just coming up almost halfway over them (the small dog breeds)."

"Our little dogs were all standing on their beds, waiting for someone to come rescue them," said Bonnie Richardson a volunteer with Pet Refuge for more than 2 decades.

Richardson said she just left the shelter after volunteering on Saturday when she received a call that the shelter was flooding fast.

Volunteers put out the call for help on their Facebook page and before they knew it close to 20 volunteers showed up ready and willing to help.

"We took bags of litter and bagged them and kind of made sandbags out of them," said Geyer.

On Sunday Richardson along with close to a dozen other Pet Refuge volunteers dedicated their Sunday afternoon to host a large garage sale on Grape Road to raise money for a new shelter to house the animals. All of the items were donated by community members in support of the non-for-profit organization.

Geyer said, "We bought a new building and we are in the process of getting it ready."

The building was purchased last September and is located on South Bend's south side off of Ireland Road. The renovations are slow going and the volunteers say they don't expect to move into the building until December.

"We just always have to do the best we can, but we are always looking for donations to get that building ready as soon as possible," said Geyer.

Richardson said, "It's been a long journey, we've been working for the past 30 to 34 years having auctions to garage sales and everything else to help to get us into that facility."

Volunteers said the flooding has been a problem in recent years but they said it is getting worse each heavy rain fall we seem to get.

The two sewer drains located in the back of their property just can't seem to handle the heavy rain water like they used to.

If you would like to help Pet Refuge log onto their website at for more information. 

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