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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Staff with the Greater Huntsville Humane Society are looking forward to pursuing a new venture after receiving a grant from a Food Network icon!

The $30,000 grant is from none other than Rachel Ray and her foundation meant to aid in all things-animal centered.

The Rachel Ray Foundation partnered with another nonprofit, the Best Friends Society to grant these funds to the Humane Society, and put a dent in their efforts to create the first feline sanctuary for cats with the leukemia virus, also known as FeLV and feline immunodeficiency virus, known as FIV.

It will be the first in the state of Alabama.

Before the sanctuary existed, the common recommendation was to euthanize the cats so they don’t spread the viruses. However, the Humane Society’s Spencer Batcheller says with proper care, they can live long and happy lives.

“That means we’re able to save so many more cats. Healthy cats, because they’re not taking up a spot in our adoption room, and we’ll have a whole FIV/FELV sanctuary, so these cats will be adopted, but if they don’t, they have the best place to live out their life.”

The nearest sanctuaries for cats with these viruses are in North Carolina and Texas, forcing rescue groups to drive hundreds of miles away to make sure the cats reach a safe destination.

The Huntsville sanctuary will be called the Rachel Ray Haven for FIV and FeLV Cats.”

Humane Society leaders hope to get to work on the project in the coming months, after raising additional funds.