Devoted Pet Lover Leaves $3 Million To Start Animal Shelter

A departed man’s will details his wish to establish an animal shelter on a farm to save animals, train dogs and rehabilitate unwanted pets.

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The man's will details plans to use $3 million in assets for a new shelter based on the Animal Welfare League of Clark County, above. Via Springfield News-Sun/Facebook
Anastasia Thrift

A wealthy man without family nearby had to decide how to allocate his assets after death, and he chose to donate it to animals.

David Robert Wetzell of Urbana, Ohio, lived his life surrounded by dogs and cats before dying at age 80 last December, and now his legacy will help homeless pets, the Springfield News-Sun reports. The man, who went by Bob, left a will with specific instructions on how to establish a new animal sanctuary using the money from his liquidated assets, estimated at $3 million.

The executor of his estate, Ronald Tomkins, told the news outlet of Wetzell’s plans and said he was a devoted pet owner and animal lover.

“He thought about it and that was something that was greatly on his mind,” Tomkins said.

The goals Wetzell outlined are to create a place to preserve animals, train dogs, rehabilitate unwanted animals and also house a pet cemetery. The will details how to establish the shelter, starting with selling the assets, securing a farm in Champaign County and modeling the establishment after the Animal Welfare League of Clark County.


The model for Wetzell’s new sanctuary, the Animal Welfare League of Clark County, is a non-profit no-kill shelter that houses cats and dogs. Via Animal Welfare League of Clark County, Ohio/Facebook

Libby Adams runs the Animal Welfare League with her husband, Ray. She said she knew a dream of Wetzell’s was to start a shelter like theirs.

“Bob was very fond and proud of our organization,” Adams told the Springfield News-Sun. “He would come down on occasion. He was a member of our league for as long as I can remember and supported us.”

The pets Wetzell left behind include a dog, six cats, seven chickens and a 20-year-old budgie. Tomkins said he kept the dog, Blondie, and found homes for the other animals.

Tomkins has begun the process of putting together a board of five members and he will remain through the legal process of establishing the sanctuary as a non-profit organization. Once the board is constituted, they will begin deciding how to best allocate the money and whether to partner with other animal groups.

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