Shelter started by Champaign County man’s $3M gift now adopting pets

A local man’s vision for a no-kill shelter in Champaign County is becoming a reality.

When Bob Wetzell died in 2014, he left $3 million of his estate to start the Champaign County Animal Welfare League, modeled after the Clark County Animal Welfare League.

Wetzell was an animal lover throughout his life, attorney Ronald Tompkins said.

“He devoted his life to training and animal welfare,” he said. “This was just his way of continuing his mission after his passing.”

Tompkins knew Wetzell throughout his life and has been in charge of his estate since his death.

“We have more work to do, but we’ve come a long way and we’ve gotten a lot done.”

The Mechanicsburg property where the shelter is located is on 70 acres of secluded farmland, Tompkins said. It was purchased in July for about $660,000.

The shelter almost immediately offered cats and dogs for adoption after the purchase of the property, Executive Director Tiger Franks said.

“This is Bob’s vision,” she said.

The Champaign County Animal Welfare League is unlike other shelters, she said.

“We need to bring in these dogs, spend the time that they deserve to be able to be placed into a home and not be brought back,” she said.

The shelter offers training and rehabilitation services for animals, she said, as well as reduced prices for spaying and neutering.

“The only way we can control or help control over-population, unwanted pets, overcrowded shelters is spaying and neutering,” she said.

Franks also wants to be involved with the community.

“We’re going to do a lot of education,” she said. “A lot of education, a lot of awareness.”

The shelter will offer memberships for community members to take advantage of services, classes and walking trails.

An official grand opening of the shelter is expected in April, Franks said.

To learn more about the Champaign County Animal Welfare League visit

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