WEST ROGERS PARK — A portion of the Red Door Animal Shelter's ceiling collapsed Tuesday morning, unleashing a torrent of toilet water — but no animals were hurt.
Mike Malito, 36, the shelter's manager, said he came to work about 9 a.m. to find the storefront rooms used to house kittens and full-grown cats flooded with water.
"At first I thought someone left the water running in the back," Malito said, "then I heard the kittens crying."
He said the building's managers sent a crew to fix the leak, which originated from an overflowing toilet in a third-floor apartment.
"I heard the water coming down like a waterfall," Malito said. "There was water everywhere — and ceiling everywhere. ... There was a lot of water."
The shelter, which specializes in rescuing cats and rabbits, sent a request to its Facebook followers for volunteers to help clean up the mess and move animals to undamaged areas of the shelter at 2410 W. Lunt Ave.
By noon, the leak had stopped, and water was vacuumed out of the area, but a gaping whole remains in the ceiling. Malito said it should be fixed within a couple of days.
Eight cats lived in the flooded rooms.
Red Door staff member Marlene Ondrick, 54, said most of the water and ceiling came crashing down on the kitten room's litter box.
"Luckily, none of the kitties were in the litter box," she said, and most of the cats were scared and hiding.
"We were in there trying to find them ... with ceiling falling down around us," she said. "Then we found out it was toilet water."
Malito said the shelter would be accepting donations to replace cat trees that were damaged by the water.
"It'll be awhile until things are back to normal," he said. "It was crazy. I wasn't expecting this."