Lack of funds is forcing the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary to shut its doors.

The sanctuary “fell well short of its April 1 fundraising goal,” founder Linda Laurus wrote in an e-mail to volunteers.

“The Board of Directors cannot reasonably expect to raise such significant funding in time to run the volunteer internship program, hire summer staff and sustain animal care costs for the entire 2012 season.”

Wild creatures great and small have benefitted from the warm care of Laurus and her colleagues. With a small army of 100 volunteers, the North Gower facility has helped more than 1,500 animals since it launched in 2005.

A mangy, emaciated fox that now boasts a lustrous coat of red fur has the sanctuary to thank, as does a small squirrel whose lame leg was fixed by a dedicated volunteer’s therapeutic massages.

But all is not lost.

The sanctuary is still looking for volunteers who can help with fundraising and administrative activities so it can hopefully relaunch next year.

And other volunteers who have said they’re willing to foster animals may yet have the chance if more animals appear.

The sanctuary almost folded in 2008 but Sun columnist the late Earl McRae’s 2008 piece about its financial woes undammed a river of donations — $20,000 in cold hard cash as well as dozens of in-kind donations to refurbish an old stable to expand the sanctuary’s capacity.

The sanctuary board will use the rest of the year to try to secure stable sources of funding.

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