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Betty White challenge yields donations for local rescues

Photo Provided Cindi Yanez, dog warden with the Harrison County Dog Pound, poses for a photo with Ruby, a 1- or 2-year-old Rottweiler available for adoption. The Harrison County Dog Pound Volunteers received around $1,000 in donations through the Betty White challenge – an initiative in honor of the late actor’s 100th birthday on Jan. 17.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Local animal shelters and rescue organizations are grateful for the dozens of residents who chose to donate this past week in honor of the late Betty White’s 100th birthday.

The initiative was sparked after White, an actress and avid animal lover, died Dec. 31 – a little more than two weeks shy of her birthday. Since her death, fans of the actress encouraged people to donate to their local animal shelters and rescue organizations on Jan. 17 in her honor.

Candace Fleagane, director of Belmont County Cat Stray Shun, said more than 80 people donated to her nonprofit or the Belmont County Animal Shelter. Although she did not provide a total amount of donations received, she said it was above their expectations.

Fleagane said they are grateful for the community’s support. She said she has been busy writing thank you notes to all those who donated to illustrate her appreciation.

“It has been a big help. … I want to thank everyone who participated and if they see this article and have not donated, we’ll still be happy to accept their gift. A donation of any kind is always appreciated,” she said. “We hope the county will keep supporting us.”

Around 50 people donated to the shelter and 35 to the cat program. All the donations will go toward the medical care of the animals. Fleagane said it wasn’t just people from the county who donated, but also folks from around the country who were former residents.

“A lot of people that live out of town and yet their heart is in St. Clairsville and they’ve adopted animals from us in the past, they sent money, too. That was really nice, and people that couldn’t afford to give money brought in treats and food, and that all helps,” she said, adding that they received donations from people residing in Texas and Arizona. “We really appreciate the people that live in Belmont County and the people that used to live in the county for their continued support.”

Fleagane said the money that was donated to the Cat Stray Shun program will go to support efforts to resolve a cat hoarding case in Martins Ferry. She said a couple who could not afford to spay and neuter stray cats that were coming to their home have become overwhelmed with approximately 80 cats and kittens. The organization has stepped in to assist the couple and has taken in around half of the animals with plans to take more over the coming weeks. She said she will use the funds to spay, neuter, deworm and vaccinate the cats.

“We’re taking as many cats as we can to the shelter, and we have to give some back because we don’t have room yet. … We’ve had some other rescues reach out and help us to house a few of the kittens,” she said, adding that it costs around $150 or more to provide the proper initial medical care to each cat.

The Martins Ferry case spiraled out of control within the past two years, which highlights the importance of spaying and neutering your animals, she said.

Cindi Yanez, a dog warden with the Harrison County Dog Pound, said the pound raised over $1,000 in donations this past week through the initiative.

“It was an unexpected surprise,” she said, adding that it would be nice if it would become an annual event in White’s honor. “Some shelters in more populated areas raised $5,000 to $9,000. I’m sure Betty White is happy up there looking down.”

Yanez said the Harrison County Dog Pound Volunteers, which runs completely through donations, is “extremely grateful” for the support of the community. All donations will go toward veterinary care for the dogs for both emergency and preventive care.

In Monroe County, Crossed Paws Animal Shelter thanked the community for its support via social media.

“A big Thank You to everyone who donated to the Betty White challenge.We truly appreciate your generosity, as I am sure Betty does too,” the shelter stated.

Those interested in donating can mail checks to Belmont County Cat Stray Shun at P.O. Box 207, Morristown, OH 43759. To give to the Belmont County Animal Shelter, mail to BCAS at 45244 National Road West, St. Clairsville, OH 43950.To donate to the Harrison County Dog Pound, mail checks to 82900 Toot Road, Cadiz, OH 43907 or through Paypal at Harcodogpoundvolunteers@gmail.com.

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