ASPCA/Rachael Ray Challenge Finds Homes for Thousands of Pets

October 4, 2012 | By Margo Ann Sullivan | Category: Heroes | 1 comment
Tags: adoption & rescue, contests & sweepstakes, heroes, charity

Contest boosts adoption rates from coast to coast.

Lloyd, the Labrador retriever mix, came up aces on Day One of the ASPCA/Rachael Ray $100K Challenge. He found a new home. He also helped his human friends at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society come a little closer to winning a prize by adding another "happy tail" story to the list of cats and dogs adopted since the Aug. 1 kickoff.

Fifty shelters across the U.S. are battling to win the top $100,000 prize or compete for one of the additional grants totaling $500,000, according to Olivia Melikhov, the ASPCA's social media manager.

Every year so far, the challenge has helped increase the number of adoptions by the thousands, starting with about 48,000 placements in the first year, she said.

Since Aug. 1, over 19,000 dogs and cats have left the shelters with their new human companions, according to the ASPCA website. (The numbers are as of Sept. 13.) The big goal this year is to find new families for more than 62,000 homeless cats and dogs, the ASPCA's Bert Troughton said. This is the third year the ASPCA has held the shelter challenge to give shelters a boost during the months of August, September and October, when pet adoptions traditionally slow to a crawl, Troughton said.

Meanwhile, as they rev up for the final leg of the three-month long competition, the shelters' staff members are posting pictures of the pets still waiting for homes and sharing their success stories over Twitter (hashtag#100KChallenge) and on Facebook and on the ASPCA website at and

Facebook is the "primary channel" for the challenge this year, according to Troughton. (Click the Like button, or become a Facebook friend, and the latest challenge news will go directly to your Facebook home page, she said.)

The 50 shelters that made it into the finals, were the top vote-getters during the first leg of the competition, which ended in March, she said.

At least 10 shelters from each region of the U.S. made the cut, she said.

"Back in January, we announced the challenge to a field of at least 1,000 shelters," she said.

"We just thought people like a good fun competition," especially when everyone really wins by "helping shelters and saving more lives," Troughton said.

"This gives shelters a nice 90-day campaign," about pet adoption, she said, plus a chance to attract potential shelter volunteers and new foster homes.

The contest has a twist because the winner will not necessarily be the shelter that finds the most homes for cats and dog, Troughton said. Instead, the top prize will go to the shelter that shows the most improvement over last year's adoption rates, she explained.

Besides the top prize, there are also prizes for other categories, such as for

best community involvement.

"It's so much fun to watch the creativity," Troughton said. In Dayton, Ohio, she said, the shelter made a video about a "pawlitical" election pitting the dogs against the cats, she said. In Seminole, Fla., the local shelter picked "a dozen a day" as its slogan and goal, and some of the other contestants put a twist on the Olympic Games.

Lloyd's adoption made the list of Happy Tails stories, Melikhov said.

Lloyd came to the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society as a stray on July 12, according to Havens Ross, a shelter staff member.

She estimated Lloyd was about eight months old, and said he had endeared himself to the staff.

"He learned how to smile while he was here," she said. "They call it submissive smiling. He would pop (his head) up and have his little grin on."

A citizen found him and brought him to the shelter, she said. Lloyd didn't have any tags or an identifying microchip. He was put up for adoption after no one claimed him.

A classified ad salesman, Nick French of the New Mexican, took a special interest in Lloyd's story. He passed out flyers about Lloyd, and the shelter staff said his extra efforts helped Lloyd find a home.

Pictured: Lloyd, a young Labrador Retriever mix, found a new home Aug. 1, the kickoff day of the ASPCA/ Rachael Ray $100K Shelter Challenge. (Photo Courtesy of Santa Fe Animal Shelter)

Do you know of a shelter or rescue group participating in the $100K Shelter Challenge? How do you think organizations can boost adoption rates? Share your thoughts below!

Comments (1)

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3 years ago

No I don't but they should work with the animals the behaivor can make a big diffrance and training too such as if they get along with dogs cats kids babies ex.... also this is so stupid but I have had adoptions fall through before just because the dog or cat is not house broken it is so easy to house break an animal people want the dog to be perfect even though there is no such thing as perfect some times all a dog needs is a cute hair cut so many people in this area right now want cocker spaniels the breed can make a diffrance too also inform people about breeds so they don't say oh I always wanted a dalmation and then adopt it and bring it back make sure they know of what to excpect from the breed high energy couch potato what make sure with pitt bulls that everyone knows that they are great family dogs and may have a bad rep but most of them are great dogs as for a doxie most people do not know a standard is actually alot bigger and can weigh up to 25 pounds. Also let them know they are saving a life by adopting even from a rescue cause then the rescue can take in another one that they did not have room for before also make sure they know breed doesn't matter papers don't matter and tell them to let their new pet pick them instead of them picking it that makes stronger bonds even if they never thought they would want that breed Abby picked us Rigbee picked the son of the owner of a local buisness Taco picked me he really liked me but did not bond with us all only me make sure the family dog likes the whole family before adopting.

Good Point | Reply ›

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