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JERSEYVILLE, Ill. (KSDK) – Propane prices could be the straw that broke the camel's back for an Illinois animal shelter.

The Riverbend Humane Society in Jerseyville began to have trouble when the recession hit. It was surviving until this winter, when heating bills skyrocketed. Now it's fighting just to keep its doors open. Because if they close, many of the animals there may have nowhere to go.

"They're my life. I eat sleep and breathe this place. I'm here pretty much 24/7," said Sarah Taylor.

But soon Sarah will be working here at the shelter just as a volunteer. And she's already the only employee left. The other three were laid off within the past year.

"It just breaks my heart," said the Riverbend Humane Society Director Bill Stuart.

But Stuart said he didn't have a choice.

"The utility bills have been astronomical," he said.

This month, Stuart said he was slapped with a $3,500 propane bill, more than double his highest from last winter.

"You've got to keep the animals warm," said Stuart.

To keep them warm, Stuart and his volunteers have given up pay and their paid help.

"Sacrifices had to be made," said Taylor.

But with nothing left to sacrifice, all they have left is their dedication and the hope that things will get better.

"We're bound and determined we're going to keep the place going," said Stuart.

"I'm in it for the long haul. If the ship sinks I'm going to be right there with it," said Taylor.

If the shelter is able to keep its doors open, it plans to start holding fundraisers in the spring. If you'd like to help, visit the Riverbend Humane Society Facebook page.

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