The Humane Society of Madison County has a one in 20 shot at winning a $1 million animal shelter makeover. On April 22, the Humane Society got its chance to show why they deserve the prize.
Richard C. Thompson, founder of Zootoo.com, visited the shel-ter, located on Route 38 north of London, next to Fairhaven School. He and other partners in the national contest are touring the facilities of each finalist. They began in New York on April 8 and will finish back in New York on May 1. London was their 11th stop.
Thompson informed the crowd of supporters that Madison County was one of 1,000 shelters that participated in the contest. Contestants earned points each time an individual voted for their favorite shelter at Zootoo.com, a Web site that offers members the ability to rate and review products and services, watch and discuss pet news, and help other pet lovers make good decisions for their pets. Contest entrants with the most points at the end of March made the finalists list.
During each shelter visit, the Zootoo.com advisory board is looking at the conditions of the shelter, the shelter’s policies and procedures, and the community’s commitment to the shelter. In addition to Thompson and other Zootoo.com representatives, the judging panel includes: Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and other HSUS members; Bill Meade, founder of Shelter Planners of America; and John J. Anton, marketing director for Pedigree Brand, which is providing a grant to the winning shelter.
Betty Peyton, director of the Madison County Animal Shelter, and other Humane Society members will travel to Orlando, Fla., on May 15 for the HSUS Animal Care Expo, where the top three award-winners will be announced.
“Seventeen of the 20 will get a check for $5,000 (at the Expo),” Thompson explained. “The other three will get plane tickets to New York.”
On May 21 in New York, Zootoo.com will announce the winner, which will receive the shelter makeover, and the runner-up, which will receive $10,000.
“We’ve already won, no matter what happens,” said Julie Barnhard, president of the Humane Society of Madison County.
She referred in part to the fact that Madison County is guaranteed $5,000 as a top-20 finalist, but also to the increased exposure the Humane Society has received as a result of the Zootoo.com contest.
Donors have come forth to provide a more permanent solution to the tarps over the London shelter’s dog kennels. New volunteers have shown up to walk dogs, clean, and help out in other ways. More people are making donations, Peyton said.
Thompson is happy to hear such reports.
“A major goal of the Zootoo.com Shelter Makeover Program has been to generate national and local awareness and encourage com-munity involvement in animal shelters across America,” he said.
“When we started the program, some 70 percent of Americans did not even know where their local shelter was located…We get thank you notes from shelters every day telling us that the program has helped to put their shelter on the map.”
The Humane Society of Madison County is one of three finalists in Ohio. The others are the Cat Welfare Association in Columbus and the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley in Marietta. Six finalists are located in New York, two in Kentucky, and one each in Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and West Virginia.
To learn more about the local animal shelter and Humane Society, call 740-852-PETS or go to www.hsmcohio.com. The shelter is located at 1357 State Rte. 38 SE, 1.5 miles south of State Rte. 40.