HSMC receives $400K donation for new shelter

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Pictured during the check presentation at Garden Place in Waterloo are, front row, from left, HSMC board president Paula Hutchinson, Vera Baebler (holding Winter the puppy), and HSMC board member Jeff Clinebell; back row: HSMC members Alice Imhof, Kim Gibson, Cari Mahoney, Jan Rippelmeyer, Deb Dubis Foster, Shawn Malone, Travis Stipes, Heather  Schultheis and Janet Miller. (Corey Saathoff photo)

A resident of Garden Place in Waterloo is making dreams come true for the Humane Society of Monroe County.

Vera Baebler, who Monroe County residents may remember for the donation of her family’s 105-acre farm in the county to the 4-H Education Foundation last March, just donated $400,000 toward the building of a new HSMC-Helping Strays animal shelter.

HSMC plans to break ground on its new facility off Hanover Road on Saturday, March 7. Baebler’s large donation will help the group build a shelter that should benefit the furry residents of Monroe County for many years to come.

Baebler, who is in her 90s, said she has always wanted to be able to help out the Humane Society, and now was the perfect time.

“This has been my dream all my life,” Baebler told the Republic-Times following the check presentation as a tearful HSMC president Paul Hutchinson kneeled at her side. “To me, it’s the only thing. I just can’t imagine anything better.”

Hutchinson said the new facility will offer so much more than what they can now, and Baebler has directly influenced that with her generous donation.

“Vera’s donation, along with many others, has now made our dream come true,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson detailed what the new facility will feature, including space for 29 large dogs, a spacious area for cats, quarantine areas, meet-and-greet rooms, retail space and much more.

“The new facility will be centrally located in Monroe County between Columbia and Waterloo,” she said. “Extended open hours mean our pets will be more easily available for adoption. We will be able to offer youth programs and training for the public.”

Naming rights for various aspects of the facility are still available.

The current shelter, located near Red Bud, holds 14 dogs and 40 cats, and the rest of the animals in need of homes are in foster care with families and businesses in and around Monroe County.

The site of the future shelter is on a six-acre parcel of land that was donated by a group of local businesspeople.

This new location has several benefits, HSMC officials said. In addition to being much larger than the current shelter, its proximity to St. Louis is expected to provide a boost in adoption numbers.

For more information, visit www.HelpingStrays.org or call 939-PETZ.

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