A local animal shelter is thanking its supporters after many gathered around the shelter to help save it from a surprisingly large expense.
The Protecting Animal Welfare Society of Jacksonville, better known as PAWS, was the benefactor of a Go Fund Me account this month after one of the members posted a Facebook appeal for support. assistance.
The shelter was hit by a utility bill from Ameren Illinois of over $2,000.00 this month. PAWS’ Lisa Jackson says she expected a higher bill with inflation taking a toll on everyone’s monthly budgets, but she was still shocked when it arrived.
“As everyone experiences, it was about double what we were used to. I had taken a photo of it and posted it on a private group of our volunteers. One of the volunteers who has access to the page asked if it was ok if she could post about it and try to get some help. She did and as always the PAWS supporters are amazing and have more than covered the bill and will even be able to help us with next month’s bill.
The fund has raised over $3,400.00 for the non-profit animal rescue to help utilities as electricity prices soar this summer.
The rescue is a 501-c3 nonprofit, but that only means that donations to the group are tax-exempt for the donor and excludes the group from paying taxes on items they purchase for the rescue.
Jackson says PAWS has been criticized by some in the past for the adoption fees they charge, $200.00 for dogs and $75.00 for a cat on average. She says the fee is not there to make a profit but is in place to help keep the shelter afloat and in many cases the fee is not enough to cover the adopted animal’s expenses as many come to the shelter with existing health problems.
“Broken limbs or limbs that need to be amputated, an eye that needs to be removed or a breast tumor or skin conditions, the list is endless that requires more than their adoption fee. It’s a bit like going to Walmart, I guess. Why does Walmart charge twenty dollars for that pair of jeans, but when you go to Bergners or a department store, they charge fifty dollars for a pair of jeans? We need to find a way to balance things out to cover all the bills so we can keep the doors open.
Jackson says that in addition to any health issues an animal may have upon entering PAWS, every animal that leaves the shelter is spayed or neutered before it can be adopted, and receives heartworm prevention. and fleas every month.
She says that combined with the general upkeep of the animals and the facility, the monthly budget is tight.
Jackson says another issue the shelter currently faces is the lack of vets in the area, with several having retired in recent years without another vet coming to replace them.
She says overall things are going pretty well with the rescue, although adoptions have been down significantly this year compared to previous years. Something she thinks could be partly due to a reflex effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Adoptions slowed, but everyone’s adoptions slowed. Rescues have been tough lately and everyone is feeling it. I think a lot of people went galloping this summer because Covid kept them home for so long. Because of that, it’s my feeling that, that’s why adoptions aren’t like they used to be, or why animals that were adopted during Covid are coming back. So we no longer adopt animals like we used to.
Despite the challenges, Jackson says PAWS continues to grow with more animals entering the shelter each week. She says the group is battling a persistently leaking roof on one of the facility’s main buildings, and she’s looking to try and set aside funds to put the shelter in a new building in order to have all under one roof.
Next month will also see the return of the annual PAWS fundraising event to the facility. Jackson says after two years without due to pandemic, annual open house fundraiser returns September 24e with a range of activities such as food, music, children’s activities and a silent auction.
The event will take place at PAWS located at 400 West Walnut Street in Jacksonville on Saturday, September 24e starting at noon with the silent auction starting at 4:00 p.m.
PAWS is always looking for volunteers as well as donations to help run the shelter. For more information on how to adopt a pet, donate time or funds to the rescue, you can contact PAWS at 217-243-7297, message them through the PAWS Facebook page, or by stopping by the establishment when they are open to the public between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. every Friday and Saturday.