Collinsville Animal Shelter Reaps Rewards After Donation Goof

Susan Babbitt got a call from a lawyer saying someone left nearly $200,000 to her Oklahoma no-kill shelter. Then she found out it was meant for an agency in Collinsville, Illinois.

Sunday, May 12th 2013, 10:55 pm

By: News On 6

It was a gift too good to be true.

An Arizona law firm sent a six-figure donation to the wrong Collinsville animal shelter.

That giant mistake caused the Green Country shelter a lot of grief, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

The Ward-Wiseman Animal Haven in Collinsville started as Susan Babbitt's dream.

But of course it takes money to turn dreams into reality.

"We're very short on money,” Babbitt said. “We live month to month."

Woody is one of the two dozen dogs and cats that temporarily lives in this no-kill shelter.

Babbitt says it's a struggle to stay afloat financially, but nearly two months ago, the shelter thought it hit the jackpot when an Arizona law firm called and said someone left nearly $200,000 to the organization.

5/10/2013 Related Story: Donation Mix-Up Disappoints Collinsville Animal Shelter

"We were going to give it to a financial adviser, and I said we're not building on. We're not doing anything special. We're just going to be sure we survive. That is what I was really wanting to do,” Babbitt said.

But those plans came to a screeching halt.

The law firm meant to send the money to an animal shelter in Collinsville, Illinois.

So Babbitt had to send the money back.

"What if I had spent it?” Babbitt said. “What if we had already done things we needed to do, but we hadn't."

This mistake wasn't all bad.

"The news has done it for us and I didn't go to the news,” Babbitt said. “Somebody knew about it and talked to them."

That somebody was our own News On 6 anchor Scott Thompson.

Scott grew up in Collinsville, Illinois.

When he heard the wrong shelter got the money, he called the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Because of the newspaper’s story, the Oklahoma shelter has received thousands of dollars in donations.

"Just the mistake of actually giving it to us first gave us an open door to the whole United States," Babbitt said. "I think the publicity we've gotten from this, you could have never purchased. Never."

The Arizona law firm is paying for its mistake by giving the Oklahoma shelter $12,000.

To connect with the Ward-Wiseman Animal Shelter in Oklahoma, click here.


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