The Athens Area Humane Society held a special adoption event on Monday in celebration of actress, comedian and lifelong animal activist Betty White’s 100th birthday. Backed by funding from a sponsor, the Humane Society offered free adoptions of animals over 8 months old in hopes of clearing the shelter.
“We are really hoping to get as many adoptable pets in loving forever homes as possible because that is what we feel Betty White would really want,” Cheryl McCormick, CEO of the Athens Area Humane Society, said.
White, who died on Dec. 31, 2021, was known for bringing her pets to sets and often used her platform to advocate for animal welfare.
“She was a charming individual and her playfulness and her adoration of pets, I think really informed the meaning of her life and gave her life a great sense of purpose beyond what she was able to bring to the silver screen,” McCormick said.
Recently, the “Betty White Challenge,” which encourages people to donate $5 to their local animal shelter, has gained popularity on social media. McCormick has found the challenge to be one of the best ways to honor White.
“It’s just like anything else –– when we do something collectively, we can move mountains and really make change,” McCormick said. “You spend $5 at your local coffee shop. You’ll never miss it, but it makes a world of difference.”
Making a difference in the lives of animals is the mission of the Humane Society. The recent move into a new facility in August 2021 stands to help accomplish this. At roughly 15,000 square feet, the new location is nearly three times larger than the previous one, which allows for more volunteers and animals to be kept.
Right now, the shelter can house 15-20 dogs and there are plans to build an agility course for the pets to use. Dawn Porter, a Humane Society board member, is hoping that this new facility can erase some of the stigma behind animal shelters.
“It’s very uplifting and people are excited,” Porter said. “I think maybe people have envisioned that it’s going to be sad and depressing but that’s not the way it is here.”
By the end of the event, 13 adult pets were adopted with over 150 people visiting the shelter. In addition, the shelter raised more than $15,000 for the pets.
Beyond the celebration, the Humane Society hopes to continue to bring locals together to help the animals in the shelter.
“If any community can do this and care for its animals really well, it’s Athens because people here care and help one another,” McCormick said. “In terms of what [White] would really want is keeping focus on the animals. So, [uniting] as many pets as we can … with forever loving homes is the real celebration.”