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WOODLAWN — A Woodlawn couple set on "helping every dog they can" has unleashed fundraising activities now that the IRS has granted non-profit status to Critters Animal Rescue and Adoption.
Pam and Doug Scarberry have been organizing their animal rescue for about two years, and had been waiting an agonizingly long time for the federal paperwork to come through.
They thought about quitting, but then they thought about why an animal rescue is needed.
They have living reminders of the need in their pets — like Sadie, a sweet brindle pit bull who was skin and bones at half the weight she should have been when the Scarberrys took her in.
With five dogs of their own living in their doublewide in the Buckwoods section of Carroll County, the Scarberrys can't take any more dogs into their home, but they acknowledge the need is great.
They note that most of the dogs and cats that go to the Galax-Carroll-Grayson Animal Shelter are euthanized, and across the country, 27 million dogs are put down a year.
With their non-profit status certified, the Scarberrys can move on to the next phase in their plan — fundraising.
People can now make tax-free donations, and Dallas Garrett, the director of small business development at the Crossroads Institute, and the staff are trying to find grants to fund the operation of Critters.
The Scarberrys have enjoyed the support from Garrett, who told them not to give up during the long wait for their non-profit status. Garrett will serve as the secretary-treasurer of the Critters board.
Unfortunately, grants are limited for construction of a shelter on the five acres of land the Scarberrys own. The biggest grant for a building they've found is $4,000.
"We really need donations to come in to build a building and help with a high veterinary bill," Pam said.
Somebody called the Scarberrys to find help for a dog with a bad case of mange, and they agreed to put it on their vet tab, Doug explained.
The organizers have learned about Maddie's Fund, which they have high hopes for providing support for activities like spaying and neutering of pets.
The Scarberrys believe they will need to raise $200,000 to build a shelter that will house 20 dogs at first.
"We hope they get adopted out quick when we get them," Pam said.
Doug could see the rescue getting off to a faster start with temporary shelter, a 12-by-24-foot building to accept up to five dogs.
They hope to outfit the permanent shelter with an examination room, a refrigerator and a dishwasher for food bowls, a grooming room and things to calm the animals with, like a stereo to play music or something similar, as well as a fenced-in area.
The construction estimate includes the building, water and septic service, Doug said.
The Scarberrys can see opportunities for people to volunteer at the rescue to exercise the dogs and the like. If people want to help, but can't donate money, Critters will gladly accept donations of dog food.
People have reacted enthusiastically to the idea of a shelter, especially a "no-kill" shelter, Doug said.
"I hope by spring it will be up and running — in six months anyway," he said. "It just depends on people and grants."
"I'm near retirement age," Pam said about the rescue. "That's what I'd like to spend the rest of my life doing."
• Send donations to Critters, 68 Two Mile Road, Woodlawn, Va., 24381.