It's the kind of thing that only happens in the movies. A mysterious benefactor leaves a big chunk of his estate to a stranger, and seemingly solves all their problems. Except this isn't a movie, and the "stranger" in this story is a small Animal Shelter that was having a hard time making ends meet.
The New Westminster Animal Shelter is a very small shelter in rural British Columbia, Canada. It's No Kill policy makes running on a budget hard, especially when animals come in needing special treatment for broken bones, bites or extensive dental work. Their website says their goal is to re-home the abandoned animals of the city of New Westminster (population around 70,000), but doing that isn't easy. They try to rehabilitate body body and mind - and that's not cheap.
The shelter doesn't have the huge capacity problems of shelters in the big city, but that also means they don't get many of the donations that shelters in more populous centers receive either.
That is until a kind Daryl Mutz passed away earlier this year. In his will he left $275,000 to the shelter, a place he had never visited and run by people he had never met.
See why Mutz donated so much money on the next page
The staff at the shelter was absolutely gobsmacked when the will's executors gave them a call to inform them of Mutz's decision.
"We were totally blown away," said animal control officer Margie Fox. "A thousand dollars is a big donation for us, so to hear the amount was unbelievable."
The staff are excited to start using the money to heal and train the animals in their care, and to better prepare for the ones that will soon be housed in their center.
While Mutz never visited the shelter, he had a friend that had. She had a very positive experience there and when Mutz was talking with her about giving to charity she voiced the shelter as an option.
According to the will, Mutz's money can only be used if certain stipulations are met. Requirements that shelter staff say they are more than happy to comply with.
First, is that $55,000 must be used to help animals that come in needed extensive veterinary care. That includes animals that are abused, hit by cars, attacked by animals or who have suffered catastrophic injuries.
Second, $115,000 must be used for "animal enrichment". That was defined as things to make the animals happier, like toys, play structures and special training sessions.
"We would love to keep a legacy for this gentleman," Fox said. "I think he must have been an amazing man." She says the center will spend the next 5 years making sure the donation is used as it was intended.
Two special animals call the shelter their forever home, and Fred and Ginger, both 12-year-old German shepherds, will get an immediate boost from the money. They'll start hydrotherapy on their aching limbs soon thanks to the generosity of Mutz.