OKEECHOBEE — Despite a last-ditch attempt to save it, Trail of Hope Animal Rescue is closing. The no-kill shelter has made a huge impact on Okeechobee County in its 5 short years.
Founded in July of 2017 by John and Dee Dee Morris, Trail of Hope moved into its present facility in October of the same year when Humane Society Pet Rescue FL founder Belinda Forlifer retired. Since that time, Trail of Hope has helped more than 1,600 dogs find new homes.
Slightly more than a year ago, Dee Dee Morris, who works full time as a postal supervisor and her husband John, who was no longer able to donate his time to managing the shelter, turned it over to Samantha Anne Johnson.
In June, Johnson announced if they did not get a lot more volunteer help from the community, the shelter would have to close, and at first there was a glimmer of hope as people trickled in with donations of time, money and supplies. But in August, the shelter finds itself back in the same predicament.
The few volunteers the shelter does have have been working seven days a week frantically trying to keep things going, but with about 30 big dogs and then small dogs and puppies on top of that, the job was just too much and on Monday, Aug. 8 an announcement was posted on Facebook explaining the shelter would soon be closing.
The Facebook post was met with the same types of posts that came after the June announcement. All having one thing in common, an appreciation for the work done by Trail of Hope in Okeechobee County. Many of the posters said they would be glad to volunteer if only they lived in Okeechobee or did not work full time. Hundreds talked about their own pets and how they came to find them through Trail of Hope. Suggestions were made to offer community service hours to students, to ask area churches for help, to ask for help from the local probation office to allow them to be used for community service hours. Unfortunately, all these ideas have been tried with no success explained Debbie Shofner, another regular volunteer.
"We've had great support from the community for the most part," said Shofner. "It's just one of those sad things."
All adoption fees have been lowered to $150, and there are many furry friends needing a new home. All animals up for adoption are neutered and current on shots.
The shelter is expected to close by the end of the month.