A West Columbia animal shelter has decided to stay open after an October plea for help wiped out the worst of its debt.
Pets Inc. founder Jane Brundage said Monday that keeping the doors open will remain a challenge, but that a last-ditch campaign produced an “amazing” $117,000 in contributions from 3,000 donors, starting in October.
Money was used to pay veterinary bills, buy medical supplies and catch up on insurance.
The shelter, near Lexington Medical Center, has an annual operating budget of just under $2 million, Brundage said.
The campaign brought out 600 new members, for a total of 1,000 donors who contribute at least $10 a month. To become stable, the organization needs another 350 to 400 members, Brundage said.
“It’s still iffy,” she said of the shelter’s prospects, “but we have a chance.”
Among Pets Inc. allies are the city of West Columbia, which allowed the shelter to place a notice in December water bills.
The city and shelter cemented its relationship less than a year ago, when the council agreed to provide $35,000 a year to the organization. In return, Pets Inc. places unwanted animals and has a spay-neuter program aimed specifically at “free-roaming,” or feral, cats.
Mayor Joe Owens said the city previously had an animal control agreement with the city of Cayce, which notified the city last year it was increasing its service fee to $50,000 a year.
West Columbia touts itself as “the only no-kill city in the region” because of its association with Pets Inc., the mayor said.
For her part, Brundage prefers the term “no-time limit” because the shelter puts down dogs and cats that are terminally ill and suffering or contagious. In rare cases, it must euthanize animals that are aggressive, she said.
Brundage said Pets Inc. placed about 3,100 animals in new homes in 2013; spayed or neutered at least 4,000 animals; and returned 500 lost pets.
It opened in 1992.