Animal programs

Animal shelters see outpouring of support on Betty White’s birthday


“We’ve been really overwhelmed with the awareness and support from people.”

Kevin Scanlon/The New York Times

When Betty White passed away on Dec. 31, 2021, just weeks shy of her 100th birthday, she certainly left a legacy. While many remember her for her groundbreaking career and for being one of the “Golden Girls”, she is also remembered for being an animal lover and activist.

The “Betty White Challenge” quickly went viral on Social Media, asking people to donate $5 to shelters or animal shelters in his name on his 100th birthday on January 17. And people certainly did.

On social media alone, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA)-Angell raised $14,000 and the Northeast Animal Shelter (NEAS) raised $40,000 in a day and a half, Mike Keiley said , Director of Adoption Centers and Programs. at MSPCA-Angell and director of NEAS. The money continues to flow, and these totals do not include the money flowing directly through the websites.

“It’s really especially meaningful because it’s not something that we had to generate and solicit ourselves,” Keiley said. “It’s really everyone across the country acknowledging how much Betty White meant to all of us and thinking beyond the personalities she played on TV and in movies, but what really cared about her. heart.”

MSPCA-Angell and NEAS aren’t the only ones receiving overwhelming support; the Animal Rescue League (ARL) of Boston also saw an exceptional influx of donations. In just a day and a half, ARL saw more than 1,200 people donate, according to Mike DeFina, the organization’s media relations manager. When he spoke with, the full monetary value of the donations had not been compiled.

“We have been really overwhelmed with the awareness and support from people. We’re still getting donations, people are still reaching out to us,” DeFina said.

DeFina said it was really powerful to see the level of support the shelters got on White’s birthday. The movement was not confined to any particular area – it was truly national.

“Everybody really took it on board and really embraced it. I think that’s a wonderful thing,” DeFina said. “The world of animal welfare is a bit small. And for all of these organizations to commemorate that and receive donations, for the whole animal welfare community, that’s really a good thing.

ARL was also featured on Good Morning America Monday, along with the North Shore Animal League America of New York, the Humane Society of Sarasota County of Florida, the Richmond Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Virginia, and the Best Friends Animal Society of Utah.

“It was an amazing experience to have Good Morning America reach out to us and have us coordinate this and make it happen. It was such a fun experience,” DeFina said. “It was such an honor to be a part of this. And not just to talk about our organization, but just to be part of this national movement that is the Betty White Challenge. It was truly remarkable.

White’s birthday was also celebrated with the screening of the documentary “Betty White: A Celebration” which drew crowds to 1,500 theaters across the country.

The MSPCA and NEAS are using the Betty White Challenge money to advance a project they’ve been working on throughout the pandemic – making sure animals don’t go hungry.

Organizations pledged to donate 100,000 pet meals to food banks and people in need to mark his birthday. According to a January 17 tweet, thanks to community support, they had donated 101,172 pet meals.

“We wanted to honor it a little deeper than the monetary component, to make sure we’re giving back to the people and animals in our community who need us, and that’s our overall mission,” Keiley said.

DeFina said overall, the Betty White Challenge and the overwhelming show of support from people across the country was a great way to remember the actress.

“I think a lot of people weren’t aware of Betty White’s penchant, her love for animals – everyone knew her as an actress. Of course, everyone loved ‘The Golden Girls’, but I think her involvement in helping animals in need was an aspect of her life that maybe not many people knew about,” DeFina said. “Recognizing that and acknowledging her for those efforts throughout his life was so important.”