This week, 50 animal shelters took off from the starting line of a three-month challenge to improve adoption rates and community involvement. The organizations are all participating in the 3rd annual $100K Challenge presented by the ASPCA and, for the first time, television personality Rachael Ray. 


“All my life, I’ve been an advocate for animals and a supporter of animal welfare groups,” Ray said in a statement. “My love for animals and for my pit bull, Isaboo, inspired me to create a pet food called Nutrish to raise money for animals in need. I donate 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of Nutrish to organizations like the ASPCA so they can implement programs like the $100K Challenge and support shelters around the country.”


To win the top grand prize of $100,000, contestants will need to save at least 300 more animals during the contest in August, September and October than they did during the same months in 2011. The idea is to inspire shelters to think smarter and creatively to increase adoptions and get the local community more involved. 


“After just two years of the contest, participating shelters have saved 101,263 cats and dogs during the contest periods, said Bert Troughton, vice president of Community Outreach for the ASPCA. "With the added support and visibility from a great animal advocate like Rachael Ray, we can help shelters save even more lives.”


Contestants that fail to score the grand prize also have a shot at winning $400,000 worth of additional grants. These include $25,000 awarded to the shelter with the second greatest increase; $25,000 to the contestant that best engages its community members in efforts to save pets’ lives; and between $5,000 and $40,000 in additional grants will remain to be given to the eligible organizations that perform the best in their divisions.


Added Ray: "By partnering with the ASPCA for the $100K Challenge, we will help animal shelters across the country to get more homeless cats and dogs out of shelters and into the loving homes they deserve.”  


To learn more about the shelters participating and upcoming adoption events in your area, visit the main $100 Challenge page here


Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

2012 ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge kicks off
50 animal shelters from across the United State are vying for a shot at $500,000 in prize money from Rachel Ray and the ASPCA.