Alberta animal shelters receive influx of donations as tribute to TV icon Betty White

Calgary animal shelters have already received thousands of dollars in donations following a social media challenge created to honour late actress and comedian Betty White. 

The Betty White Challenge asks people to donate $5 to a local animal shelter Jan. 17, what would have been the last surviving Golden Girl’s centenarian birthday. 

White, who died a few weeks before her birthday, famously loved animals and had a TV show in the 70s dedicated to celebrities, their pets, ecology and wildlife preservation.

Deanna Thompson, executive director at the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society, says donations to the organization have already begun, more than a week out from the challenge’s start date. Those donations will be able to help thousands of animals around the world. 

“We’ve started to see some of these donations come in her honour…we got a really cute note from someone. It’s really heartwarming that people are making a small token of appreciation for her life and her legacy,” Thompson said.

Thompson said the donations couldn’t have come at a better time, as January and February are the organization’s busiest months for animal intake, but they’re also typically when donations drop to their lowest. 

Audra the cat at the Cochrane and Area Humane Society. The animal rescue group says it has already received $3,600 donations in Betty White’s name. (Supplied by Cochrane and Area Humane Society)

“Our shelter is full, so full of both dogs and cats, and we have a long wait list of animals that do need to come in. So every penny counts.”

Carrie Fritz, executive director of the Calgary Humane Society, says the organization has already raised $6,000, more than a week ahead of White’s birthday, while also celebrating its 100th year. 

“Everybody loves Betty White, and they know her for her acting experience and for being a wonderful comedian. But a lot of people didn’t know she was also an avid animal lover,” Fritz said.

The Cochrane and Area Humane Society says it has already received $3,600 donations in the actress’ name. 

“To see all these smaller animal rescues benefit from that is amazing,” said Lisa Kedian, communications coordinator with the Cochrane and Area Humane Society. 

“Each year, the number of animals that come into our care increases and so do the costs.”

She says people can help year-round by donating goods, dropping off pet food, fostering or volunteering with animals.

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