EDINBURG – Gathered in a group near the entrance of the Laurie P. Andrews PAWS Center, volunteers and employees waited for representatives of the Petco Foundation for what they thought was going to be a simple lunch gesture for their hard work.

Sure there was food, even Sketchers shoes but what made the event special was the $1 million check the shelter received as part of 16 celebrations across the country the foundation was administering as part of a Valentine's day event.

“We're here to celebrate Valentine's Day by sharing love with Palm Valley Animal Center,” Director of Lifesaving for the Petco Foundation Susan Cosby said. “This particular shelter is extremely under resourced based on the number they are handling and services they are providing to the community.”

Cosby stressed the importance that the public know the PAWS Center is a gem in the Rio Grande Valley and is something the public should support.

The Director of Operations for the Palm Valley Animal Center Mike Bricker said a gift of this magnitude results in thousands of lives being saved. Working in an animal shelter is sometimes difficult but events like this help represent the future of the center.

“This is lifesaving in a big funny check,” he said. “It enhances our day-to-day because we know so many more lives will be saved with the help of the foundation.”

The 16 celebrations are the culmination of a month-long campaign where people across the country submitted messages of love and gratitude in the world's largest virtual valentine to shelter pets and the people who care for them. The foundation is also committing more than $14 million in grant investments as part of their annual efforts to find and invest in the most effective lifesaving animal welfare organizations nationwide.

Since 1999 the Petco Foundation has invested more than $230 million in lifesaving animal welfare work. They work with over 4,000 animal welfare partners.

Although the gift is a tremendous help Bricker still calls for the public to help with foster homes, volunteers and more donations.

“We're one of the most underfunded facilities in the nation,” he said. “We need tons of support from the public.”

There is a challenge grant in the works where Palm Valley Animal Shelter is raising $500,000 to compliment the donation. For more information call (956) 720-4563.