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Animal shelter grant challenge puts animals first

The Burbank Animal Shelter is waiving all adoption fees through Sunday in an effort to find homes for 269 cats and dogs this week, a goal that, while lofty, will position the shelter to qualify for a slice of more than half a million dollars in grants being distributed as part of a national competition.

Since the competition began on June 1, 555 dogs and cats have been placed in homes, but the shelter needs to reach 824 to be eligible for the "ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge," which is offering more than $600,000 in grants — including a grand prize of $100,000 — in an effort to increase pet adoptions.

Burbank's is one of 50 shelters competing for a portion of the grant funds.

The competition reportedly counts the number of cats or dogs adopted, as well as returned to their owners, toward the shelter's overall adoption numbers.

At a kick-off event on Saturday for the weeklong promotion, 32 dogs and cats were adopted, said Brenda Castaneda, the shelter's superintendent.

"We really need to make an all-out effort here at the end so we can get as many as possible," she added.

While still shy of their goal, the shelter this summer has trumped the number of adoptions made during the same time period last year, which was 524.

"We're happy about that, but obviously we want to meet our goal," Castaneda said.

The shelter currently has about 150 cats and dogs, including kittens as young as 3 months old, and dogs, small and large of mixed breeds, 1 year old and older.

After the contest is over, the shelter likely won't hold fee-waiving promotions as frequently.

"It's a really good thing for people to take advantage of," Castaneda said. "(The challenge) provided us the reason to have all these specials that we've never had before."

The shelter is slated to receive $1,000 for a related competition involving people voting online for their favorite photos of the adopted animals.

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