CARI closing doors

Tia Lynn Ivey

Managing Editor 

Companion Animal Rescue, Inc. (CARI) announced this week that the non-profit organization aiming to place rescued animals in forever homes is closing down. The last of CARI’s dogs, Remi, was adopted and now just Lolita, a loveable formerly stray cat who is now house-trained, is the last CARI animal in need of a home. 

Founded by Donna Prior and Ellen Warren in 2004, thousands of animals, from cats and dogs to sometimes more exotic animals like horses, donkeys, and emus, have been rescued, kept safe, and re-homed. 

“It is with a heavy heart that I make this announcement of closing Companion Animal Rescue Inc (CARI),” said Prior on Facebook.  

According to a statement from CARI supporters, “Morgan County has been blessed with a remarkable group of animal rescue volunteers led by Donna Prior, who formed Companion Animal Rescue in 2004. Since the beginning, CARI has saved thousands of animals, many of them pulled from the local animal shelter and others who just found their way to CARI. Animals who were abandoned found homes and new lives thanks to the efforts of these selfless people.”

Prior attributed the closing of CARI to a variety of reasons unfolding in the past year. 

“So many changes, both personal and professional, have happened this year,” said Prior. “Some have been good, some bad. My husband is retiring at the end of the year, and I feel it is time for me to do so as well. This has been one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made, but I feel that it is what is best.”

According to Prior, the time has come for her focus to turn to family. Due to a number of personal struggles that emerged this year, Prior said she cannot juggle her personal responsibilities and continue to give CARI 100 percent attention that the organization deserves. But Prior’s days of helping animals aren’t not over. 

“I will work with other rescues and with animal control in saving every life possible,” said Prior. “There are many wonderful non-profits in Morgan County who are in place to help with the important work of animal rescue, including Rescue Ranch and the Humane Society of Morgan County. They all do an outstanding job and I will be offering my support in every way possible.”

CARI operated as an all-volunteer animal rescue. Pat Reams, one of CARI’s supporters, provided the Rutledge 8,000-square-foot facility for CARI’s headquarters on Highway 278. 

“Donna has done an excellent job and is the backbone of that organization,” said Reams. “Providing the building was just a small thing I could do to help this great organization.”

Prior expressed gratitude for the community’s willingness to invest their time and resources into CARI since its conception in the early 2000s. 

“There are many positive memories from the past 16 years. Thank you for being a part of those memories,” said Prior to CARI’s supporters and volunteers.  “Thank you for making a difference in the lives of the animals we have saved. The good we have made in the community would not have been possible without all of you. I want to assure everyone that with the closing of CARI, all remaining proceeds will be forwarded to other non-profit animal rescues.”

If you are interested in adopting CARI’s last cat in need of a home, Lolita, e-mail Donna Prior at: [email protected]

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