Do you know the top cause of death of dogs and cats in the United States? Cancer? Heart disease? Accidents? It’s none of the above.
Homelessness is the leading cause of death for dogs and cats, and while far fewer animals are being killed in animal shelters today than there were years ago, the fact that millions of dogs and cats are still dying in shelters is tragic.
Saving large numbers of animals from being killed in animal shelters takes collaboration, community involvement, resources, commitment and creativity. The ASPCA has melded all of those elements into a contest that challenges animal shelters across the country to come up with innovative ways to engage their communities and get more homeless cats and dogs into loving homes.
This year, we are very excited to be teaming up with television personality, bestselling author and philanthropist Rachael Ray to save animals through the ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge. We will be awarding more than $500,000 in prize grants to help shelters save more homeless cats and dogs.
During this contest, 50 animal shelters across the country will compete to save at least 300 more animals—during the months of August, September and October 2012—than they did during the same three months in 2011. The ASPCA and Rachael Ray will award a $100,000 grand prize to the shelter contestant that achieves the greatest increase in lives saved during this three-month period. A second place prize of $25,000 will be awarded to the shelter with the second greatest increase in lives saved, and the contestant that does the best job of engaging the members of their communities in animal life-saving efforts will win $25,000. Those organizations that do the best in their divisions will be eligible for between $5,000 and $40,000 in additional grants.
In addition to rewarding the most successful and innovative shelters in the ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge, we will again offer our expertise and resources to contestants to help them implement new strategies for increasing adoptions, improving return-to-owner rates, engaging the community, and increasing awareness through the media and other channels.
With the added support from Rachael Ray, we know the contest will gain even more visibility. All her life, Rachael has been an advocate for dogs and cats. Through her charitable dog food line Nutrish®, she has made a personal commitment to helping shelter animals who are in need of second chances at new homes and better lives. To date, she has donated more than $3 million in proceeds from the sale of her pet food line to organizations that help animals in need.
When we launched the first $100K Challenge back in 2010, we had one simple goal: to save more lives. And the results—a remarkable 101,263 lives saved during the contest periods in just the first two years—have been absolutely remarkable.
While we’re thrilled with those life-saving results in the short-term, we are equally excited that the $100K Challenge is helping contestants build support for their organizations, which means the increase in life-saving will continue well beyond the contest period. Contestants have realized increases in volunteer hours, social media engagement and donors. For example, in 2010, the number of the New Orleans-based Louisiana SPCA’s Facebook fans increased from 1,700 to 4,000 during the course of the contest, while the number of active volunteers at N.O.A.H. (Northwest Organization for Animal Help) in Stanwood, Washington, increased more than 20 percent. Shelters noticed that people who had never stepped foot in a shelter before the Challenge were enthusiastic about animal adoption after getting caught up in the community’s excitement about the contest.
Guinn Friedman of the Humane Society for Greater Savannah in Savannah, Georgia, 2011 Community Engagement Prize winner, describes her group’s experience in last year’s contest:
“Our staff was kind of dazed and sitting around the lobby one afternoon. I asked if they had nothing to do. They looked at me and said, ‘We have no more animals.’ It was the most amazing moment in our organization’s history. We all sat down together and wept—and this time, they were tears of joy.”
We hope that in its third year, our perception of what shelters across the country are capable of will be shattered again, and that the nationwide support to help shelters save more lives will continue to grow.
To learn more about this year’s ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge, please visit www.aspca.org/100k.
Photo: ASPCA responders, including one pictured here in Joplin in 2011, provide relief to animals across the country.
The ASPCA is on the ground in Morgan County, Kentucky, expanding our response to the string of deadly tornadoes that ravaged parts of the Midwest and South last week.
Morgan County was battered by an EF-3 tornado on Friday, March 2, leaving in its wake at least six deaths, numerous injuries and massive damage to property. In the following days, Morgan County reached out to the ASPCA for help caring for animals affected by the tornado.
Bringing along a generator, cages, crates, food and more, the ASPCA arrived Sunday to meet with local veterinarians who had formed a response team, helping them establish a plan of action.
The ASPCA is also deployed to Branson, Missouri, to assist in the aftermath of the tornado that devastated that state on February 29.
Guest blog post from Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations.
Thanks to the efforts of the ASPCA and other advocates in Louisiana, the U.S. Forest Service decided to prohibit the use of dogs to hunt deer in Louisiana’s Kisatchie National Forest (KNF). We’d like to thank our supporters in Louisiana who contacted the Forest Service on this issue, and we commend Chief Tom Tidwell of the U.S. Forest Service for this decision to help protect Louisiana’s dogs.
The Kisatchie National Forest is Louisiana’s only national forest, spanning over 600,000 acres across the central part of the state. In the past, KNF has allowed hunters to use dogs while hunting for deer. This policy proved disastrous for many of the dogs involved in these hunts. We received multiple reports of dogs being left behind in the forest to fend for themselves or being hit by speeding vehicles trying to keep up with the pace of the hunt. Lost, forgotten, or abandoned dogs were forced to beg for food from surrounding landowners, kill wildlife to survive, or starve to death.
The Forest Service has done the right thing with the new policy. No other federal lands in Louisiana allow dog-deer hunting, and the state has already banned the practice in Wildlife Management Areas. It follows that the KNF would adopt a policy that minimizes conflicts with users and surrounding landowners, reduces negative impacts on its wildlife, and also reduces the cruel treatment of hunting dogs.
The Forest Service’s decision shows how effective citizen advocacy for animals can be. The hundreds of comments that the Forest Service received from our supporters in Louisiana helped play a role in its decision. Be sure to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to receive updates on issues affecting animals and to learn how you can be an advocate for animals.
The truth is downright scary. From household cleaners to avocados, there may be dozens of pet toxins lurking in your home. It’s critical, pet parents, to be aware of these potential dangers and take measures to keep hazardous items out of your pet’s reach. Really, we can’t stress this enough.
In conjunction with March as Poison Prevention Awareness Month, we’ve launched a really cool interactive calendar that reveals common household products that may pose a threat to your pet.
ASPCA responders, including one pictured here in Joplin in 2011, provide relief to animals across the country.
The destruction is devastating. After a deadly tornado tore through parts of the Midwest, the ASPCA dispatched its disaster response team to bring emergency pet supplies to Taney County and Branson, Missouri. ASPCA officials estimate that approximately 250 to 500 animals have been directly impacted by the storm.
“Many people have lost their homes due to the tornado, and our goal is to alleviate some of the stress for families by keeping them together with their pets," says Dr. Dick Green, Director of Disaster Response for the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team.
ASPCA responders arrived on the ground on Wednesday, February 29, to work with local officials to assess the situation and establish a system that will provide families with pet supplies generously donated by PetSmart Charities.
“The ASPCA is working with the Taney County Animal Control to establish a shelter-in-place plan where pet families can request sheltering units consisting of kennels, food, bowls, leashes and collars," explains Green. “The ASPCA will continue to provide ongoing assistance, personnel and resources in Branson as long as we’re needed.”
Additionally, the ASPCA is providing an initial grant in the amount of $10,000 to help animals in need of emergency sheltering and veterinary care. Taney County residents in need of emergency funding, animal shelter units or any animal control issues should contact the Taney County Animal Control at (417) 332-0172.