Kershaw County Humane Society raising money for new animal shelter

11/25/2012 12:00 AM

11/24/2012 6:04 PM

The Kershaw County animal shelter is bursting at the seams with homeless dogs and cats.

Now, a Columbia software developer with a soft spot for animals is coming to the rescue.

Austin Meyer, who created the X-Plane flight simulator, and his family are sponsoring a “Double the Love” campaign on behalf of the Walter Crowe Animal Shelter in Camden. For every dollar donated, the Meyer family will match it, up to $1 million.

“Animals are among our most precious resources and maybe the most underappreciated,” Meyer said.

The Walter Crowe Animal Shelter in Camden was opened in 1970 by its namesake, who was a Presbyterian minister. The Kershaw County Humane Society took over operations in 1999. The shelter now takes in an annual average of 5,000 animals, including those brought in by the county’s animal control officers.

Those 5,000 pets that walk through the doors each year are pushing capacity, but there is no room to expand at the building on Fair Street on the outskirts of Camden. A road expansion project killed any plans to expand, according to a news release about the fundraiser.

The Kershaw County Humane Society’s board president, Judy Thiel, has bought a new building on Black River Road in Camden. The Double the Love campaign will pay for renovations, new equipment and operating expenses. The new facility will be named the Meyer-Thiel Animal Adoption Center.

The new 16,000-square-foot location will offer care for abandoned animals, a spay/neuter clinic, an adoption center and an education area. It will include indoor kennels with outdoor runs, a cat cottage, administrative offices and a garden.

Since 2010, Meyer has been involved in animal projects throughout the Midlands. He developed X-Plane, a popular flight simulator for pilots and airplane enthusiasts. He uses his success to support projects that help homeless pets.

He and his family have contributed to the Meyer-Finlay Pet Adoption Center in Columbia and the Animal Mission’s Meyer Initiative, which provided free and low-cost spaying and neutering in four counties in 2010. He also supports the Good Bowl, a Columbia-based project that helps distribute pet food to shelters throughout the state.

The campaign for the building will run through the end of the year, said Elaine Gillespie, whose advertising and public relations agency is helping with the fundraiser. The goal is for the Kershaw County shelter to provide spay/neuter clinics, education and animal adoption to the rural areas surrounding Camden.

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