JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Millions of dollars were donated to help build a permanent facility for the Jacksonville Humane Society. The former facility on Beach Boulevard was destroyed in a fire in 2007.
An event was held Thursday night to announce $3 million in donations. Wayne and Delores Weaver, former owners of the Jacksonville Jaguars, donated $1 million. Chairman of the board Michael Munz and Chairman of the campaign Linda Stein each donated $1 million too.
The Weavers also put out a challenge that they will match any gifts made by the community up to $100,000.
"Wayne and I have always had animals. We appreciate the work that goes on here on behalf of the animals. To be the largest no-kill humane society is quite special," said Delores Barr-Weaver.
A fire destroyed the Jacksonville Humane Society facility on Beach Boulevard in April 2007, killing 86 animals inside. More than 80 pets were rescued. Four firefighters were injured in the rescue efforts that day.
JHS said it's been in temporary units ever since and would like to build a permanent facility to better care for the animals.
"Right now for example our dogs' kennels are not protected from the elements. In extreme cold, they're cold. In extreme heat in the summer, they're hot and they don't get any relief from that. We wouldn't accept that as a means for you to care for your pet in your community and we certainly shouldn't be caring for dogs like that in the humane society," said Denise Deisler, Executive Director of JHS.
Deisler said so far $5 million total has been raised for the permanent facility. It needs to raise $10 million more.
"We hope to break ground by the end of this year and be complete by the end of 2016," said Deisler.
Delores Barr-Weaver said JHS does a lot for the Jacksonville community and a new facility will open more opportunities for community involvement.
"I'm excited about the children being able to come and read to the animals. I can imagine the animals saying, 'I don't know what those kids are saying but I'm glad they're here,'" said Barr-Weaver.
If you'd like to donate, call JHS at 904-725-8766 or click here.