We made it!

Dr. Michael Blackwell, administrator, Young-Williams Animal Center, Knoxville

Thanks to the support of the community, Young-Williams Animal Center has qualified as a contestant in the 2012 ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge, a nationwide competition for animal shelters aimed at saving more animal lives. Young-Williams will compete this fall for more than $500,000 in grant funding, including a $100,000 grand prize.

To qualify as one of the 50 nationwide contestants, Young-Williams asked for community votes from April 5-16. We are very grateful for how East Tennesseans stepped up to support us. We received 15,868 votes, placing 11th in the nation and second in the Southeast Division, qualifying for the Challenge. Aug. 1-Oct. 31, we will compete to find homes for more cats and dogs than during the same period in 2011.

Our staff, board of directors and volunteers will work diligently to get more animals adopted or returned to their owners. The reward is that more animal lives are saved and pet overpopulation receives more awareness, but we also want to bring home that $100,000 to help even more animals. We are counting on the community again for your support and help.

We will put any prize money earned toward our most pressing animal problems: reducing the number of homeless pets by offering more free and low-cost spay/neuter options; enhancing our foster and adoption programs; and expanding the pet food pantry for the community’s neediest pet owners.

There’s a stigma that the Southeast is far behind other parts of the nation when it comes to animal welfare. Let’s save more lives than any other shelter across the U.S. and prove how passionate we are about animal welfare in Tennessee. And let’s decrease the pet overpopulation and someday achieve an ideal community where every loving pet has a happy home.

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