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Q: Do you believe this guy?!

April 14, 2009 | By Emilie A. | 24 answers | Expired: 1947 days ago

Emilie A.

CLAYTON — Eleven months ago, supporters of Stray Rescue celebrated after winning a $1 million shelter makeover contest, but on Monday they stood solemnly in the rain as they learned about a change in fortune.

Stray Rescue will still get a new shelter, but aside from a settlement of an undisclosed amount it will be without the further involvement of zootoo.com, the website that sponsored the contest. The makeover won't be nearly as grand either; it'll have to be scaled back, and that means more delays, said Kathleen England, a spokeswoman for the animal welfare group.

"Stray Rescue has a lot of work to do," she said.

In recent months, negotiations over the $1 million prize had turned into a dogfight between Stray Rescue's founder Randy Grim and multimillionaire Richard Thompson. Thompson, former chief executive of Meow Mix, founded the zootoo.com website.

England said they thought they had won $1 million in cash for a makeover, but later learned that the makeover can come from services and in-kind benefits as well as cash.

"I don't know if I'd call it a scam, but it's very misleading," England said. "If we would have known that we were going to have to go through all this, I don't think Randy would have ever entered into this contest."

Thompson declined to comment about specifics of the wrangling Monday after he and his lawyers met for 90 minutes with England and Stray Rescue's attorney Ronald Compton in Clayton. Outside, about 60 supporters waited, some with dogs, for word on the negotiations.

Before the meeting, England said they planned to sever ties with Thompson, but they still hoped to get some money, and that apparently is what happened. Details of the agreement, however, were not disclosed.

Stray Rescue said it was proceeding with plans to rehab a 16,000-square-foot warehouse at 2320 Pine Street that A.G. Edwards donated in 2007.

The relationship with Thompson and zootoo.com couldn't be repaired after the two sides disagreed about money, fundraising tactics and treatment of subcontractors, England said. Work on the project had stopped.

In addition, England said news of their contest win had hurt Stray Rescue's ability to raise money because donors mistakenly believed the group was awash in cash.

Meanwhile, zootoo.com, a website pet owners use to share information and connect with other animal lovers, is wrapping up another shelter makeover contest. The Central Missouri Humane Society in Columbia, Mo., is among the 10 finalists.

Patty Forister, executive director of the shelter, said Monday that she felt bad for Grim, but said Thompson had been clear with them that the winner was not going to get a $1 million check from zootoo.com.

"No project of this magnitude is going to be fast or flawless, and we understand that it's going to be some hard work," she said. "We've got to agree on plans and work together for our shelter, and I hope we get the opportunity to do that."

Janice Wolf, who runs a small, independent animal rescue in Gassville, Ark., said Thompson promised her on the Ellen DeGeneres show to build a barn and keep her in animal food for a year.

She got the barn and some of the food, but, she said, "he pressured local businesses to donate everything."

*Poster's Note* I am voting for my fave too. Hopefully there wont be any more litigation in Missouri. Hint hint LOL

Readers' Answers (24)

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Ewitt
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Apr 18, 2009

Yes, I do believe it. There was a whole article about it in our local newspaper because Butte county, where I live, is one of the 10 finalist. But, like the article said, who cares what we get, something is better than nothing, and we desperately need a lot.

Thumbs Up: 0 | Thumbs up!

Sue L.
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Apr 15, 2009

I agree with everyone else. I will still vote

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TaraMM
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Apr 15, 2009

I cant believe this guy is whining about getting free money. So what if it came from the community- you got some great publicity and help for your shelter. Why on earth would he have expected to be handed a million dollars to do whatever he wanted-- there are conditions for anything like this. Sad situation, he's putting this entire contest in a bad light because he didnt get free reign to do whatever he wanted. Sad.

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Ariel G.
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Apr 15, 2009

well the shelters are still getting some much needed help. im still going to vote!!

Thumbs Up: 1 | Thumbs up!

Renee M.
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Apr 15, 2009

does it really matter who or what was donated as long as it helps the animals?

Thumbs Up: 0 | Thumbs up!

Bella C.
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Apr 14, 2009

I'm still not sure who you think the bad guy is...

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Meryl O.
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Apr 14, 2009

I am still voting 10 times a day. Our shelter has never received so much attention! I find it strange that the timing of this is very suspicious.

Thumbs Up: 1 | Thumbs up!

Melb31
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Apr 14, 2009

I am going to continue to vote for my shelter and hope all will work out for the best for them.

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Melb31
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Apr 14, 2009

As disturbing as this news is, I will still vote for my chosed shelter. ANY help is better than none. Hopefully, if our shelter wins they will get the best makeover possible. I will continue to vote my 10 votes each day until the contest ends.

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Jean C.
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Apr 14, 2009

I agree - what will be, will be. There is very little that can be done to insure it won't happen this time too, but I'm hitting that button 10 times a day ANYway!

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