Our Towns

Top dog: Canyon County Animal Shelter wins $25,000 prize in national contest

The Canyon County Animal Shelter, which placed second overall in last year’s $100,000 ASPCA Rachael Ray Challenge, was notified Monday that it received a $25,000 prize for community engagement in this year’s contest.

canyon prize

This is a bright spot in a difficult year. Due to a downturn in donations, half of the shelter’s 25 staff members were laid off in August. Staff and volunteers were notified at 1 p.m. Monday in a surprise visit to the shelter by contest organizers.


Archive photo: Canyon County Animal Shelter Director Barbara Hutchinson

The ASPCA Rachael Ray Challenge aims to increase adoption rates at shelters across the country. Last year, the Canyon shelter found homes for 2,082 pets from Aug. 1 through Oct. 31 — an increase of 1,347 animals over the same period in 2011.

This year, the Caldwell shelter saved 1,868 animals during June, July and August.

“Canyon County Animal Shelter has now won a major prize in this contest two years in a row,” said Bert Troughton, vice president of community outreach for the ASPCA, in a press release after the announcement. “They are a shining example of all that can be achieved through creativity, hard work and pure passion for the cause. Not only did they increase lives saved by more than 320 animals over the same three months last year, but they did an amazing job of rallying their volunteer base, the media and the public in support behind them.”

Forty-nine shelters are participating this year, and the Canyon County shelter is the only one from Idaho.

The top prize in the contest is $100,000. But a total of $600,000 is actually awarded because of a variety of smaller challenges within the contest.

The Caldwell-based shelter was one of three shelters in the country to receive enough votes online from supporters to be a finalist for the community engagement award. Judges determined the winner after reviewing these factors: the number of people the contestant engaged during the challenge; the breadth of ways the community participated; and the level of community enthusiasm for saving homeless animals as evidenced by photos, stories, links, news coverage and videos posted.

“What they’ve done is pretty amazing,” said Mallory Kerley, a spokeswoman for the ASPCA.

The other finalists for the community engagement award were: The Humane Society of South Mississippi in Gulfport and the Humane Society of Greater Savannah in Savannah, Ga.

Read the live chat that I had with Shelter Director Barbara Hutchinson in August by clicking here.

Read the story about layoffs: here.

ASPCA Rachael Ray Challenge contest organizers say 56,379 cats and dogs were saved during the contest, an increase of 12,050 over the same period in 2012.

Other prizes awarded today:

- $100,000 Grand Prize and Best in Division Five: The Animal Foundation in Las Vegas, Nev.
- $25,000 Best in Division Four: Citizens for Animal Protection in Houston, Texas
- $25,000 Best in Division Three: HALO Animal Rescue in Phoenix, Ariz.
- $25,000 Best in Division Two: Texas Humane Heroes in Leander, Texas
- $25,000 Best in Division One: Washington Animal Rescue League in Washington, D.C.


Archive photo: Dr. Talitha Neher, veterinarian at the Canyon County Animal Shelter, walks Jack, a pit bull Friday. “He’s my lunch buddy, “she said.

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Posted in Our Towns, Pets Unleashed