Animal Care Services, a city-operated rescue agency in San Antonio, Texas, was named the grand-prize winner today in the 2012 ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge.
The three-month competition challenged 50 shelters to increase the number of animals saved through adoption, alternative placement or owner reunions. The New York-based American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and TV personality Rachael Ray awarded more than $500,000 in grants to shelters nationwide.
“This is really a Cinderella story; the ASPCA is our fairy godmother,” said Lisa Norwood, the San Antonio shelter’s public information officer. “We were not in a position to take this on as early as a year ago, but we made so many changes that the staff finally said, ‘We can do this. Even if we don’t come out on top, we’ll still save a lot of lives.”
The agency found homes for 4,054 cats and dogs in August, September and October, a 52 percent increase over the same period in 2011.
The $100,000 grand prize will be put to good use, Norwood added.
“The money will be dedicated to growing our foster program,” she said. “We need to grow the avenues in which we get animals out the door as well as more medical, more research, more training.”
“When we started this contest in 2010, we wanted to help shelters save more lives,” said Bert Troughton, vice president of community outreach for ASPCA. “Each year these shelters are raising the bar of what’s possible.”
The other top shelters were:
- Canyon County Animal Shelter in Caldwell, Idaho: $25,000 second prize and $20,000 West Division Prize
- Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center in Pittsburgh: $25,000 Community Engagement Award
- Humane Society of Charlotte in Charlotte, N.C.: $20,000 Southeast Division Prize
- Toledo Area Humane Society in Maumee, Ohio: $20,000 North Central Division Prize
- Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter in Baltimore: $20,000 Northeast Division Prize and $10,000 Most Improved Player Prize
- Medina County SPCA in Medina, Ohio: $10,000 Most Improved Player Prize, North Central Division
- Arizona Animal Welfare League and SPCA in Phoenix: $10,000 Most Improved Player Prize, Southwest Division
- Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode in Diamond Springs, Calif.: $10,000 Most Improved Player Prize, Central Division
- Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Wellington, Fla.: $10,000 Most Improved Player Prize, Southeast Division
Applications for the 2013 challenge will be made available Jan. 3 at www.aspca.org/100kchallenge.