DENVER — An animal rescue started by a Colorado teen has been going strong for the last decade, but is now facing a roadblock. Staff at the rescue said they're being forced to leave the location they recently opened up and need to figure out what comes next.
When Denver7 first introduced viewers to Demi Merritt of Demi's Animal Rescue, she was a 17 year old operating out of her parent's basement.
Even back then, her small operation made a big impact, earning her a Denver7 Everyday Hero award.
The award is now hanging on the shelter's first brick and mortar lobby, a decade later.
"I honestly didn't think I'd have a building within 10 years," Merritt said.
The concept of Demi's Animal Rescue, Thrift Store and Cat Lodge is simple. The thrift store raises money to support the animals.
"Our biggest expenses are vet bills," said Merritt.
In the back of the store is where the pet lodges are. Custom rooms where the rescue can take in more challenging animal cases that might not do well as a foster pet, but do deserve the chance to eventually be matched with a forever home.
"With our cat behaviorists, we've been able to pretty much make her a normal happy kitty," Merritt explained about a cat named Amber that is staying in the Lodge until adoption. "She's one of our proudest cases right now."
The rescue has had success over the last two years since opening the lodge and thrift store, re-homing dozens and dozens of pets.
They said the previous owner of the building they rent out of passed away recently and the building was then sold to a new owner.
"Basically for their plans, they wanted the full building and they aren't very interested in having a tenant," said Merritt. "We did have long-term plans to stay here, but unfortunately, we just had to negotiate to get out early."
The nonprofit raised around $30,000 to acquire their current space and build the facility to be what it is today. That was also with the help of volunteers and contractors who donated their time.
"It's just really sad. We really did put our heart and soul into this place. So to have to rebuild just a couple years later, is a little heartbreaking," said Merritt.
The thrift store is selling off as much of their merchandise as they can to help fund what comes next.
"We will have some additional costs, because we're gonna have to get storage units to store our displays and all the things that hopefully, we can just bring over to the next building," she said.
Until the shelter finds its next home, Merritt is hoping to keep the rescue going behind the scenes, helping the cats in need find theirs.
Denver7 features the stories of people who need help and now you can help them with a cash donation through Denver7 Gives. One hundred percent of contributions to the fund will be used to help people in our local community.
To donate to this campaign or choose another to support, use the secure form below..
Want more stories of hope and ways to help in your inbox? Sign up to get the weekly Denver7 Gives Email Newsletter 💌