COCOA, Fla. — A Cocoa animal non-profit that focuses on rescuing dogs from the shelter and fostering them was hoping to expand, but their plans to build a no-kill animal sanctuary are in jeopardy.

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The Animal Sanctuary's board president Kathy Curtis says this was supposed to be their year. Ground was supposed to be broken on the first of two buildings out of 11 on 17 acres of land.

Sadly, the pandemic putting their plans on hold. For the first time this year, the Animal Sanctuary held a fun and festive fundraiser Sunday. 

“This is our first public fundraiser we've had,” Curtis said. “It's been devastating, we had to close our thrift shop and recently re-opened. Sometimes we have donations and other times it's non-existent.”

About 60 dogs signed up to take photos with Santa, and all proceeds go towards the Animal Sanctuary. Partaking in the festivities is Donna Wisniewski and Leroy the dachshund.

“Leroy is lucky I bought him, so we like to help the animals that aren't so fortunate,” Wisniewski explained.

The Animal Sanctuary also relies on volunteers to help foster pups rescued from county shelters, and help them find a good home. But people getting laid off and the fear of getting COVID-19 has also impacted the sanctuary in that way too.

“Our volunteer base right now went from 65 and then July we were down to 18, we've lost a lot of volunteer staff due to the fears,” Curtis explained.

The Animal Sanctuary is in need of donations, volunteers and fosters. To help out, visit the sanctuary's website.