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The Betty White Challenge was pretty straightforward: In honor of the late actress' 100th birthday on Jan. 17, people would donate to a local animal shelter, rescue group or agency in White's name.
And boy, did people respond.
The Wisconsin Humane Society reported on its Facebook page that the Betty White Challenge raised more than $60,000 and involved more than 1,600 donors. The Washington County Humane Society raised more than $10,000 from about 200 donors.
This was phenomenal," said Kay Amland, executive director of the Washington County Humane Society.
The Humane Animal Welfare Society, serving Waukesha County, raised more than $50,000 for Betty White's birthday with several different donors.
Maggie Tate–Techtmann, director of organizational development at HAWS, said that a $1,000 donation from the Emma Loves Dogs Foundation kicked off the Betty White Challenge. Big donors were Waukesha Sobelman's Pub & Grill with a $5,000 donation; Boscos Social Club matched that donation with $5,000.
She said the money would be used for its rescue program and its efforts at giving animals a "second chance" to be adopted.
Elmbrook Humane Society raised about $7,000 from 180 donors. "We were amazed," said Anita Alfaro, the annual giving and special events manager.
"We never thought we would have that great a turnout with so many supporters. It speaks volumes to her (Betty White)." She said the money will help the organization's medical fund, which helps animals with medical issues such as ACL or dental issues.
The Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission reported about $4,000 was raised through the Betty White Challenge. And Happy Endings No Kill Cat Shelter, Milwaukee, raised about $5,200 from about 160 donors.
"Donations started to come in the day after she died," said Darlene Rager, board president of Happy Endings No Kill Cat Shelter.
Amland said that these kinds of donations ensure a small euthanasia rate at the Washington County Humane Society. The euthanasia rate at the shelter is about 4%; euthanasia is only used if animals are very sick, Amland said.
Donated funds cover more expensive surgeries so animals can be adopted.
For instance, she said that an animal had a cyst inside of its nose, had that surgically removed, and will soon be eligible to be adopted. Dental surgery is another thing the shelter is able to do because of donations, said Amland.
"We do everything to keep our animals adoptable," she said.
White, who is known for her lifetime dedication for animal welfare, has received the National Humanitarian Medal from American Humane, the first national humane organization founded in the United States. She also received the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute’s James Smithson Bicentennial Medal in 2017.
Amland said in honor of what would have been White's 100th birthday, the shelter promoted the adoption of three of its senior-aged pets — Harriet, a 13-year-old yellow Lab, Bradley, an 11-year-old black Lab and Jake, a 10-year old cat. As a result, Harriet and Bradley were adopted, and people have shown more interest in adopting Jake.
"Many Facebook friends posted photos of their adopted animals and thanked Betty White," said Amland. "It is impressive how one person can make a difference nationwide. She was truly inspirational."
Here is how to make a donation to an area animal shelter:
Washington County Animal Shelter: Visit wchspets.org or call 262-677-4388
Elmbrook Humane Society: Visit www.ebhs.org or call 262-782-9261
Wisconsin Humane Society: Visit bit.ly/WisconsinAnimalDonate or call 414-264-6257
Happy Endings No Kill Cat Shelter: Visit www.happyendings.us or call 414-744-3287
Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission: Visit www.madacc.org or call 414-649-8640
Humane Animal Welfare Society: Visit https://hawspets.givecloud.co/give or call 262-542-8851
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Betty White Challenge raised $136,000+ for Milwaukee animal shelters