COLLINSVILLE, IL (KTVI) - A dream come true is now shattered for a small animal shelter in Collinsville, Oklahoma.
A few weeks ago, the founder of the Collinsville Animal Shelter, also called the Ward-Wiseman Animal Haven, almost fainted. Out of the blue, she got a call from an Arizona lawyer, saying the shelter was getting more than $188,000 from the estate of a deceased client.
The Oklahoma shelter’s founder, Susan Babbitt, quickly started filling out the paperwork and dreaming big. This donation felt like winning the lottery, since the shelter staff was used to $25 donations, if that, and was barely staying afloat.
“We live month to month,” Babbitt explains, “Animal shelters don’t make money, they just spend it.”
But then Babbitt got another phone call, and her high hopes came crashing down. She recalls, “[The voicemail] said, we made a mistake, we sent it to the wrong animal shelter. Please send us back a check in the amount of—and it was the exact amount of the check.”
Writing that check won't be easy, so naturally, Babbitt is procrastinating. “I only heard like four days ago that I need to send it back, so I’ve been really busy,” she says with a laugh, “It’s like Scarlet O’Hara; I’m going to do it tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, staff at the Metro East shelter are thrilled about the large chunk of change eventually heading their way. They say this donor, Mary K. Thomas, had given in the past, and the money will benefit the city-run shelter’s adoption program and spay/neuter clinic.
Back in Arizona, the lawyers who handled Thomas’s estate say a mix-up like this has never happened before.
Attorney Trevor Whiting with Scottsdale-based Dana Law Firm says the shelter’s address just got lost in the legal shuffle. He admits, “We felt devastated when we found out the mistake.”
As an apology to the small shelter, Whiting says his law firm will give them a portion of the legal fees they received from Thomas’s estate. This amounts to $12,000.
It may not be what Babbitt had originally dreamed of, but will certainly help her shelter continue its mission and stay afloat.
The Collinsville, OK shelter planned to use the donations to help sick pets, perform more spays and neuters, and purchase a computer for the facility.