COLFAX — After 15 years, Central Illinois Small Animal Rescue will close.
“My wife and I are retiring. That’s the short explanation,” said Garrie Burr, an operator of the shelter alongside his wife, CISAR founder Pat Burr.
"At one point we were the only no-kill shelter in McLean County, probably in all the counties that border McLean," he said. "There now are several shelters that try to be no-kill, or at least practice no-kill sometimes, which is much better than it was when we started (in 2002).”
Garrie said CISAR, a not-for-profit shelter and low-cost veterinary clinic at 29738 E. 1400 North Road, has stopped taking animals and is making arrangements for the animals on hand, though no exact end date is set.
The shelter specialized in animals that other shelters wouldn't take, sometimes due to age or illness.
“We’re not going to close the clinic as long as we can get enough money in to buy the drugs and supplies,” said Garrie Burr. “We've tried to keep it as low-cost as we can, not only to benefit our animals but to benefit the community.”
The facility has six employees, including four part-time veterinarians. Garrie Burr said the clinic, which opened in 2007, is trying to hire a full-time surgeon.
Garrie Burr acknowledged financial problems were part of the decision to close. Heartland Bank and Trust attempted to foreclose on the property in 2013, and CISAR, a 501(c)(3) organization, declared bankruptcy three years ago.
Garrie Burr said the bank will eventually receive the Colfax property.
“Every penny we have had has gone into the shelter. We’ve been putting all our pension in,” said Pat Burr, who's 75.
Garrie Burr, 80, is a retired University of Illinois employee.
“When that looks like it’s not gonna get any better, you have to ask yourself why you’re doing it,” he said.
Garrie Burr said negative feedback, especially on social media, also contributed to the decision. In 2013, the Burrs pushed for a bill in the General Assembly that would have allowed the Department of Agriculture to forward false complaints against animal shelters for prosecution.
"We’re tired of this constant battle with people who don’t know what they’re talking about,” said Garrie Burr.
He added that they're thankful the facility has had so much support.
“We’ve had tremendous support from the community, not just from Bloomington-Normal but people all over the state of Illinois. We've had contributors from outside the state," he said. "That's let us do things to help people keep their animals that bankers might not consider good business.”