Cobb County's animal shelter has made it to the second round of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Save More Lives $100K Challenge.
It is one of 50 nationwide vying for $300,000 in grant money from the ASPCA. At first, there were 95 shelters in contention, but only the top 50 vote-getters from this month's online voting competition were able to move on.
The shelter received 6,597 online votes, putting it in 21st place among the 50 contestants.
Don Bruce, facility operations manager for Cobb County Animal Control, said that with the county's backing, he feels the shelter's chances of winning grant money are high.
“We’d like to ask the community to be prepared to help support us,” he said.
Shelters with gains of at least 300 adoptions from 2010 to 2011 will qualify for prize money. The ASPCA compares adoptions from August to October from both years.
The shelter that has the biggest increase will receive $100,000, while second place gets $25,000. Grants of $20,000 each will be awarded to five regional winners.
A committee is being formed to determine ways to increase the number of adoptions at the shelter, Bruce said. Having special adoption days and hosting an open house are among the ideas proposed so far.
“The community is excited about it,” he said. “We’ve had people from all over motivated by this, and that’s a good thing.”
Tugging at the heartstrings of shelter volunteer Sherry Kersey are the dogs and cats currently at the shelter. Up to 500 animals are housed daily at the shelter, which has recently seen an increase in older cats and dogs that are about 15 years old.
“That’s the hard part for me: not seeing any of them get outside,” Kersey said. “You walk by and they’re all staring at you. I try not to know when they may get put to sleep.”
The $100,000 grant would help Cobb County Animal Control improve living conditions for animals, such as building additional cat rooms and purchasing kurandas—raised mesh bedding—for dogs. Money would also be put toward dog runs and walking trails.
“These are things to make life better for the animals while they’re here,” Kersey said.
Bruce hopes citizens will provide ideas on increasing the adoption rate and adopt animals themselves.
“Even if we don’t win, we win,” he said. “The community wants the best for the animals, and that’s a win for all of us.”