As one could imagine, it takes a large number of resources – labor, time, and especially funding – to properly care for the 7,000 dogs and cats taken in each year by Southern Pines Animal Shelter in Hattiesburg.
So when the folks from the Petco Organization recently showed up for a surprise visit at the shelter to present the staff with a $250,000 check – along with a few other gifts – it’d be safe to say that gesture made the day for all the shelter employees.
“This is a huge, huge investment in life-saving for our community,” shelter director Ginny Sims said. “We are excited and awestruck, and we’re going to do some dancing later, I think.
“It’s an incredible investment, and it just shows how much the Petco Foundation truly cares about life-saving. We’re honored that they see so much potential for so much good work to be happening here in Hattiesburg, the Pine Belt and the surrounding communities.”
The $250,000 to Southern Pines Animal Shelter was part of the more than $10 million in grant investments that the Petco Foundation has pledged to commit to animal welfare organizations across the country. The foundation’s annual investment process allows it to invest in the most effective lifesaving animal welfare organizations nationwide.
“We are thrilled to get to be a part of it, and thrilled to see how these funds are going to help us reach more pets, help us bring more people and pets together, and help us make a difference,” Sims said. “The money is for saving lives; that’s what we’re going to be doing.
“We’re going to be looking at our programs, we’re going to be looking at the pets that we have that are here waiting to find a new home, waiting to be re-united with an owner. We’re going to take this really generous grant funding and see how we can improve upon that and save even more lives, and we’re really honored to get to do so.”
Sims said the cost of saving the lives of shelter animals can be high, especially if the animals have medical issues or injuries.
“To know that we have this amazing support, and this amazing partnership (is great),” Sims said. “Things that seemed huge, in terms of being to overcome challenges for lifesaving – we know that we don’t have to take that stuff alone.
“To know that we have a partner who’s making it more attainable for us with these wonderful grant funds is going to make a huge difference for these pets.”
The shelter pets and the people who help save them also will receive valentine messages of gratitude for their live-saving work from pet adopters locally and across the nation. In addition to the $250,000 check, Southern Pines Animal Shelter also was presented with several other goodies, including pet toys, supplies and Skechers shoes for the staff.
What made the occasion all the more special was the fact that the majority of the staff members had no idea the Petco Foundation representatives would be showing up that day.
“We were so surprised; we were really excited,” Sims said. “Every day, we’re going to see animals coming in – our job continues every day.
“It’s a really special day when we have an amazing partner like the Petco Foundation show up say, ‘Hey, we’re going to make life-saving a little bit easier.’ So to say that we were surprised and excited would be an understatement – there will be a lot of smiles and celebration happening today.”
Since 1999, the Petco Foundation has invested more than $260 million in life-saving animal welfare work, cooperating with more than 4,000 animal welfare partners. The foundation has so far helped more than 6 million pets find new, loving families.
In recent years, the Petco Foundation has honored Southern Pines Animal Shelter with the Paul Jolly Compassion Award and a $300,000 grant. Last December, the foundation awarded $1,000 to the shelter based on an essay written by the Lichlyter family of Petal, which told the story of 10-year-old Kimmy Lichlyter and her recently-adopted kitten Haven.
“The work that Southern Pines Animal Shelter is doing in the community is what’s making this possible,” said John Sierra, who serves as regional field program manager for the Petco Foundation. “They are doing fantastic, life-saving work, through saving as many homeless pets’ lives as possible.
“And that’s why the Petco Foundation enjoys investing in organizations just like this one.”