Summertime unleashes a whole menu of fun: the end of the school year, summer vacations, visits to the beach and plenty of opportunities for frolicking with Fido. And, for 49 pet rescue organizations, the months of June, July, and August represent the chance to compete in the annual ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge with $600,000 in prize grants at stake.
Each year, this unique contest challenges animal shelters to adopt out more pets than they did during the same period in the previous year. During the 2012 Challenge, participating shelters saved over 56,000 lives, representing an increase of nearly 15,000 over the previous year.
This year’s event has already started off with a bang, with 2,047 adoptions during kick-off weekend alone. The shelter and rescue contestants represent 30 different states and U.S. territories but they all have one thing in common: they’re all vying for the grand prize of $100,000. The grand prize will be awarded to the shelter that saves the most lives through increased adoptions during the three-month period compared to the same period last year.
The Grand Prize is just one of many awards to help spur adoption rates. The best community engagement will win one shelter a $25,000 prize with four divisions, based on intake levels, $20,000 each for the leader in each division. Monthly grants and Most Improved awards assist additional contestants. Every shelter that saves at least 300 more lives than the same period last year wins $5,000.
To increase those adoption levels, shelters are getting creative with their special events throughout the summer. In Gulfport, the Humane Society of South Mississippi will hold a 24-hour ADOPT Around the Clock event. In Leander, Texas Humane Heroes will challenge animal lovers with a Bowl-a-Thon. Lafayette, Indiana’s Almost Home Humane Society will celebrate Kitten Palooza with a buy one, get one free sale!
The Challenge is spearheaded by both the ASPCA and Rachael Ray. The Emmy-winning television star and cookbook author was inspired to found Nutrish®, a pet nutrition brand that donates 100 percent of its proceeds to animal welfare organizations such as ASPCA, by her Pit Bull, Isaboo.
How many animals will be saved by this year’s Challenge? No one will know until September but every year the numbers continue to climb. In 2010, 48,779 pets were saved, followed by 52,484 in 2011 and 56,232 last year.
Increased publicity for local shelters and the Challenge itself spur the competitive spirit of these communities, inspiring animal lovers to spread the word about pet adoption. And, regardless of which shelter fetches the Grand Prize, the real winners will number in the tens of thousands: the adopted animals.