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They're Engaged!

Bert Troughton introduces you to 3 agencies that know how to motivate—and
activate—their communities.

Breaking news! Announcing the three Community Engagement Award finalists in this year’s ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge. Give it up for Canyon County Animal Shelter in Caldwell, ID, Humane Society for Greater Savannah in Savannah, GA, and Humane Society of South Mississippi in Gulfport, MS.

The Community Engagement Award is a $25,000 grant recognizing the $100K Challenge contestant that does the best job of getting their community members directly involved in saving lives. So what did these three agencies—all three seasoned Challenge alums—do to get their communities saving more lives?

Up in Caldwell the theme was foster, foster, foster. While Canyon County Animal Shelter (CCAS) ran lots of cool events and promotions to keep the public coming for animals, they worked continually to expand their shelter’s capacity with foster families. And they even use their fosters’ own words—and this Norman Rockwell-esque photo—to recruit more fosters, like in this sweet Mother’s Day post from a CCAS foster mom.

Andrea writes, “Yes, I have my hands full, but my heart is even fuller…it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.” 

And CCAS cleverly shows the families behind the magic—enticing their followers to picture themselves as future lifesavers. Seems to work, too, since CCAS increased their foster families by 50 during the contest.


Meanwhile, the folks at Humane Society of South Mississippi (HSSM) have a knack for enlisting new segments of their population by bringing the animals TO the people. And they do that not just through events like their Adopt Across the Coast, in which they had animals available for adoption in 18 locations across a 3-county area.

They also tap into the heart of their community with fun and relevant promotions that get people to think, “Hey, that’s me they’re talking to.” See, for example, their Hairball for Men club. 

And for families with kids, HSSM helps inspire good grades by offering $10 off for every A on a report card. Meet Jillian, who earned all As to take sweet Zappy home. (Her brother seems pretty happy about her grades—or maybe the kitty—too.)


Humane Society for Greater Savannah (HSGS), winner of the Community Engagement Award in 2011, made magic through partnership. If you run a shelter or rescue, you already know how critical partnership is to success in this business, and you also know just how hard it is to develop and maintain. But HSGS and Savannah Chatham Animal Control staff and volunteers have shouldered-in together to save more than 700 lives this summer.

And that kind of in-the-trenches-together hard work is the best foundation of all for a lasting relationship that will result in many thousands more lives saved throughout the next months and years. Recognizing that it takes all kinds of partnerships to save more lives, HSGS enlisted lots and lots of other partners, too—like individuals who sponsored the adoption fees for one—or many—animals, and this fun crew that went to a ball game and flash mobbed in between innings.



The three agencies did their part, now we’ve got to do ours. Five ASPCA judges have the difficult task of poring over hundreds of Facebook posts to determine which of these agencies did the very best job of getting community members directly involved in saving lives this summer. It won’t be easy, but it will—no doubt—be engaging. 


Related Links:

ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge

About the Community Engagement Award

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Saving Lives Adoption Programs



We're still engaged in South Mississippi. Go Humane Society of South Mississippi!!!!!!!!


My dog, Georgia, came from Human Society of Savannah!! They are great..


Savannah! I have 2 rescues myself! They have even inspired kids to get bday donationsfor the animals instead of presents for themselves! They do a great job communicating with the public and really need the assistance to continue to maintain and grow what they are doing to save and provide good homes for these sweet animals. Thanks!


Go Savannah Humane Society , you are the most incredible bunch. With a minimum of staff, a maximum of heart and volunteer engagement and a caring community that spans more than 4 counties. Thank you to all the families that gave the four-legged orphans a new loving home, and thank you for promoting adoption, foster, donation, engagement for a better life for animals 365 days a year. It takes not only a village , it takes a whole area...


The Caldwell Shelter has done remarkably well in caring for the animals in the shelter. This past winter the boiler broke down and the shelter made sure to get the community involved by putting the call out for sheets, blankets, beds, towels and anything else to keep these animals warm and cozy during one of the coldest winters on record. Heaters were rented, and volunteers staffed the shelter 24/7 to be sure all animals were safe and the heaters functioned properly. An outpouring of donations kept the animals off the concrete floors. The community pitched in when needed and averted a catastrophe. Animals are not euthanized to make room for incoming, but rather sent to foster homes around the valley. Adoption events are always going on, lowering costs so those who really want a family member can take home the pet of their choice without financial burden to do so. The Caldwell Shelter is definitely getting the community involved and finding homes (temporary or permanent) for those four legged family members.


I used to volunteer to walk the dogs at the Humane Society of South Mississippi and I'm still engaged with HSSM, even though I now live in Florida. The need is so great there since there are so many neglected and surrendered pets in the South. There is a major need for Spay/Neutering services, along with micro-chipping, and HSSM does so much for he community and many times it is at no cost to pet owners. The organization made such an impact on my life that I still donate monthly to them and encouraged all of my coworkers and friends in FL to vote for them on Facebook. I am HSSM proud!

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