THE generosity of a benefactor and the success of a community capital campaign to be launched later this spring could mean a new home for the Northeast Missouri Humane Society in Hannibal, Mo.
The organization announced earlier this month that a donation from the estate of Mary Bell Gentry of Monroe City, Mo., who died in December 2015, will provide funding to build a new animal shelter to replace the 40-year-old facility on Warren Barrett Drive.
In addition, the Humane Society will kick off a capital campaign June 16 and host other pet-related fundraising events that day to generate more money to build and operate the new shelter once a suitable location is found.
"This new facility will be far superior to our current shelter, and it will better accommodate our growing needs and help ensure our furry friends receive the care they deserve," Humane Society Board President Elise Blue told The Herald-Whig.
The need clearly has never been greater.
Sadly, about 2.4 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are put down in U.S. shelters each year -- about one every 13 seconds -- according to the Humane Society of the United States.
The Northeast Missouri Humane Society was founded in 1966 and cares for about 2,000 homeless pets each year. In addition to providing adoption services for stray and abandoned domestic animals, it sponsors programs to help prevent neglect, abuse, cruelty and overpopulation.
The nonprofit organization is not affiliated with other humane societies and does not receive state or federal funding. It is funded primarily through memberships, donations, fundraisers, endowments and monetary gifts.
One example is a Hannibal business, 2 Besties Biscuits, that raises money for the Humane Society year-round through its dog biscuit sales.
Gentry was 94 when she died. Her obituary noted that she mastered the violin and piano while attending the Conservatory of Music in Chicago, and she later played in a symphony and taught for a short time in Florida. It also mentioned her love of animals.
Land records show that Gentry's estate including nearly 500 acres of farmland in Ralls County, sold for more than $3.154 million in October 2016. Gentry and her husband, Gilbert, who died in 1998, had no children.
Gentry's love of animals and financial donation could translate into a new, modern facility that will benefit the Northeast Missouri Humane Society -- and animals -- for decades to come. We applaud her generosity.
Moreover, we urge Hannibal and other Northeast Missouri communities to support the upcoming capital campaign so Gentry's dream of providing a better life for animals will become a reality.