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Burglars steal thousands from struggling animal rescue

MUNCIE, Ind (WISH) — An animal rescue that helps abandoned and sick animals is the victim of burglary. Thieves stole thousands of dollars worth of pet supplies from the Animal Rescue Fund, or ARF, in Muncie.

Thousands of dollars is not small change to the organization. It operates on a minimal budget and often times goes into their own wallets to cover expenses to help worst case scenarios: animals that have been burned, beaten and starved.

Hattie and Hazel are the newest members of the ARF family. They are two puppies that were abandoned in the middle of nowhere. A good Samaritan spotted them and brought them to ARF.

“They had hookworms, probably one of the worst cases of hookworms that our veterinarian has seen,” said Terri Panszi of ARF.

Thanks to the animal rescue, the pups have been vaccinated and are now healthy. In its 17 years of operation, ARF has rescued tens of thousands of animals ranging from dogs and cats to goats and pigs.

Panszi explained that sometimes, the rescues are under extreme circumstances,

“Probably the most tragic was one that was starved to death was abandoned in a house,” said Panszi.

ARF relies on donations. More than a quarter of its budget comes from soda cans. People drop off cans and ARF scraps them for cash. It’s a struggling organization where every penny counts.

“We’ve never been in a position where we are comfortable and so when we have setbacks like thievery, it just makes us sad,” said Panszi.

A storage facility west of downtown Muncie is where ARF stored its extra supplies. Hundreds of crates, grooming tables and exercise pens were among the items stolen. Thieves broke in, leaving behind just a few things.

“Thousands of dollars and again, that money didn’t come out of our pocket initially, but it was donated. It makes me sick. Thousands of dollars,” said Panszi.

Much of the stolen supplies were for a new clinic. ARF is remodeling a donated building. They have plans to run a vaccination clinic and it’ll also be home to baby critters and their moms.

ARF believes some of the items were being sold on Craigslist and at flea markets. They said one person, who unknowingly bought and sold stolen items, stopped by Tuesday afternoon to donate almost $400, the money he earned from the stolen merchandise.

Police say they have two people in custody who they believe are responsible for the crime.

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