A local animal shelter rose from the ashes to once again help furry friends find loving homes.
It was a celebration two-and-a-half years in the making. The dog shelter building reopened its doors Thursday at Ruth Steinert Memorial SPCA in Pine Grove Twp., Schuylkill Co.
"It's an amazing day to be here and finally be open because the fire was the worst thing to happen to the shelter," said Jessica Bettinger, the shelter's manager.
The fire killed two parrots and displaced 65 dogs and cats. Some were sent to Berks County, but the shelter was left gutted in January 2011. The president of the shelter, Jim McKeone, suspected it was a case of arson.
"We lost thousands and thousands in medication, medical instruments, appliances and computers," said Bettinger.
On Thursday, Ruth Steinert showed off its new digs. The no kill shelter relies solely on donations to care for its more than 130 animals. With all the damage, the shelter couldn't afford to hire a contractor. After a lot of hard work and long hours, they rebuilt the building themselves.
"Everybody said that we would never open again, it would never happen, and we were all determined it was going to come true and it did," said McKeone.
With the help of many gracious volunteers, the shelter will once again provide help to animals in their darkest hour, dreaming of a better life.
"We can provide that temporary placement and get them to where they need to be, which is into a good home," said Bettinger.
It was a homecoming of sorts, and a dream that came to fruition.