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Animal Humane Society receives $6 million donation from volunteers' estate, largest in organization's history

Animal Humane Society gets biggest-ever donation
Animal Humane Society gets biggest-ever donation 01:55

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- The estate of two beloved volunteers donated $6 million to the Animal Humane Society -- it's biggest donation in its 144-year history.

The gift comes from the estate of Steve Nordberg and Betsy McDonald, who were longtime volunteers before their deaths in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

From 2014 to 2019, they we're too busy, volunteering more than 2,000 hours, making an impression on everyone they met, like Sally Thornton – AHS's major gifts officer.

"They were just a great couple. They were kind of quiet, they were very passionate about the work," said Thornton. "They would always send pictures of socializing the babies, and they did that for many years."

Lisa Bonds, AHS's chief advancement officer, says the majority of the donation will go toward the new St. Paul facility.

"My reaction to hearing the amount is oh my, this is fabulous news!" said Bonds.

The Animal Humane Society says people's relationships with animals has changed drastically over the past few years, which means they also need to change and look ahead to the future

"We look at ourselves as leading the way to have not just an animal shelter, but an animal experience," said Bonds.

Animal Humane Society

Think grass space for cats, agility training, a pet food shelf, cat yoga -- and even possibly an amphitheater for dogs and their owners.

"We will be in every aspect helping people and their pets enhance vet services, more space for humane investigations," said Bonds.

With a goal of keep pets and their owners together. It's what they say Steve and Betsy would have wanted.

"I think they would love that their gift is going to have such a huge impact on the new facility," said Thornton.

The Animal Humane Society hopes to break ground on the new St. Paul facility in 2024, and open sometime the following year.

Just this month, the organization helped rescue 47 cats from a car at a rest stop during extreme heat.

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