JACKSONVILLE, Ark. (KTHV) -- A local business started a wave of giving that saved Jacksonville’s animal shelter from having to put down cats and dogs.
Eric Hodson and the staff members at his insurance agency delivered a check for $500 Wednesday after a Facebook campaign that spread philanthropy throughout the city.
“They fill a great need in our community,” Hodson said of animal shelters. “But this one really needs help right now, so that’s why we focused on this one.”
When one of his employees told him last week that the shelter was one the verge of euthanizing dogs due to lack of space, he challenged the people who read his office’s Facebook page: for every “like” you give us, we will donate $1, up to $500. The post spread quickly, and the goal was reached in a matter of hours.
Hedy Wuelling, a supervisor in the city’s animal control department, was very appreciative as she received the check.
“To make sure every animal here gets what they need, you rely on money, and that means you rely on donations,” she mentioned.
But the money Hodson and his staff gave Wednesday was just a small part of the community’s response.
“We had some copycats,” he stated. “Pun intended, you know!”
Phillip, Carlisle, Carlisle & Guthrie Wealth Management and Woodland Bakery in Sherwood also started fundraisers for the shelter. The financial services firm donated another $500, and the bakery raised more than $800.
“And it just snowballed,” Hodson said. “And it really brought a good awareness and it gave us an opportunity to get the word out to the community.”
With the businesses’ posts shared hundreds of times on Facebook, tens of thousands of people heard about the shelter’s dire need for money and adoptive families. Wuelling said they combined to donate nearly $6,000 to the animal shelter in the last seven days.
“A big impact,” she said. “It’s something we’ve been wanting for years, the support, financial support. In no time, it was, like, sky high.”
The donations help cover veterinary costs to keep the animals healthy, and let the shelter offer free adoptions. The shelter cannot adopt out animals who are unhealthy, so it pays for treatment if prospective owners are willing to take the animals in. Wuelling said the shelter’s medical expenses can reach $9,000 per month. Nearly every animal the animal shelter takes finds a new home, but that was not the case in the recent past.
“Years ago,” Wuelling recalled, “it was like 600 dogs a year. It was years ago. And last year, we only euthanized—over a whole year—four dogs.” (She added that two of those dogs had severe health issues, while the other two were violent.)
The dogs in the shelter had a few visitors Wednesday afternoon, one of whom picked out a puppy to adopt. The dog will be happy and the owner will be happy, but the shelter’s supervisor was elated.
“The outcome,” she said, “from a week ago, with the (Facebook) post that we were about to euthanize. Yes, amazing.”
Wuelling said Hodson’s agency was the first to turn Facebook likes into donations for the animal shelter.
“I think it’s the age we live in, with the technology,” Hodson said, to explain why the task was so successful. “And one click here, one share there, and it can really snowball. We’ll definitely do something like this again. It may be this organization, or something similar. But it just shows you the power of what’s important to people, and what people care about, and how you can directly impact charities in our local area.”