Judy McKonly loved animals her entire life, but she always had a special affinity for cats. She dreamed of putting her family’s fortune to good use by one day opening a cat shelter like no other. Unfortunately, she passed away before her dream became a reality.
Her family carried out her dream using $1.5 million dollars in seed money from the family’s nonprofit, The McKonly Foundation.
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Built to Please Cat Residents
The Columbia Animal Shelter is a state of the art facility that is as modern and beautiful as it is highly functional. Filled with windows that allow light to pour in from outdoors, the rooms are spacious and bright.
Tall, expertly designed cat towers fill the visiting rooms in large numbers. This gives the cats plenty to climb on and allows potential adopters to see their potential new fur babies in action.
Cats absolutely love the screened in area on the back of the building. It gives them a chance to look around outside, feel the breeze, and get a sense for the outdoors all in the safety of a contained, indoor space.
Fully Staffed and Ready to Serve
The Columbia Animal Shelter is staffed by 6 full-time staff members, veterinarian Jen Johnston and five others. Moving forward, the shelter will rely on volunteers and donations to keep the operation running. The local community will surely do what they can to help, knowing all the love and thought that went into creating this amazing space for cats in need.
Shelter Fills a Need in the Community
Columbia has never had a shelter like this, which is one of the reasons Ms. McKonly aspired to bring one to life. Her son, Mike McKonly and staff veterinarian Jen Johnston know that the shelter is filling a need that was sorely lacking in their community.
“I think this is a wonderful dream, and it’s great for the community, great for Columbia,” said Johnston.
“It was worth it. We wanted to do that for her (Judy McKonly). It’s just a wonderful facility,” said Mike McKonly.
Although most of the people that are now involved in the day-to-day operation of the shelter didn’t even know Judy McKonly, they feel gratitude towards her for leaving a legacy that will have a lasting impact on so many animals, people, and the community of Columbia.
“She must have been a wonderful woman to have done this. This is like a dream,” said Cate Girvin, a volunteer.
The no-kill shelter opened in March of this year and serves mostly stray and surrendered cats and kittens.
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