Some 100 orphaned cats and dogs living in a Chicago animal welfare center are in danger heading into the expected-to-be-hot weekend after vandals either stole or destroyed all of the building's main air conditioning units Thursday evening.
Though the shelter has brought in large industrial fans to keep the animals cool, NBC Chicago reported Friday that temperatures may still be approaching 80 degrees, a dangerous temperature for many animals to be exposed to. The damages total an estimated at $20,000.
Shelter manager Diane Spryka was devastated by the theft, and said that funding was already tight for the center prior to the incident. Though they could move the animals to another of the league's shelters, in Chicago Ridge, that center is already crowded.
"It saddens me because for 35 years we’ve been here to serve the community," Spryka told NBC Chicago. "Now the funds we receive that could be going directly to the animals will be used elsewhere to stabilize the units."
Police said that air conditioning unit theft or vandalism have been on the rise on the South Side and elsewhere in the city as thieves seek out the copper tubing inside to sell for fast cash, according to ABC 7.
Donations to help the shelter recover from the theft can be made through their website.