Debt at Pets Inc. could force shelter to close

dhinshaw@thestate.comOctober 8, 2013 

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    Pets Inc. accepts donations by mail at Pets Inc., P.O. Box 764, White Rock, S.C. 29177, or online at www.petsinc.org

— Pets Inc., a no-kill animal shelter, will decide in the next 60 days whether to close, one of the founders said Tuesday.

The organization is in “real serious debt” and is having trouble paying monthly bills, including a mortgage of about $6,000, founder Jane Brundage said. She would not say how much debt the organization has.

“This is the second time we’ve been here and, this time, I think it’s it,” she said. “I really don’t think we’re going to pull it out.”

A last resort mailer, pleading for $10 monthly donations, went out Saturday to 3,000 supporters. The response will determine the 21-year-old shelter’s fate, she said.

Tuesday, after receiving the newsletter, the DiChello family visited the Lexington County shelter to see what they could do.

“They’re doing the right thing for the animals,” Lou DiChello said, standing in the middle of the busy adoption center. “It’s just too many.”

A photographer, he offered to organize a holiday fundraiser of Christmas portraits of pets with their owners.

And the Blythewood family went home with a new puppy, tentatively named “Troublemaker,” to join their four other rescued animals.

“This is the one,” Lori DiChello said as soon as she took her turn holding the little fellow.

He licked her face.

“He’s a spunky little thing,” Lou DiChello said.

The shelter not far from Lexington Medical Center derives most of its operating budget through its retail store at 300 Orchard Drive, Brundage said.

She said debt mounted after Pets Inc. built its adoption center at 300 Orchard Drive eight years ago.

On top of that, she said, the recession forced people who could no longer afford their pets to relinquish them to the center. Those people couldn’t afford to make donations to cover the bills of animals that were sick or injured.

She refused to institute a euthanasia policy for those expensive, hard-to-place animals to keep the doors open.

“I can’t do it — won’t do it,” she said. “I have to walk away from it.”

The organization employs 50 to 55 people who work at the center in three shifts each day, she said. The administrative staff – Brundage, 61, and co-founder Pat McQueen, 76 – is not paid.

Reach Hinshaw at (803) 771-8641.

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