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Shelters benefit from late actress being a friend

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneA kitty named Huck jumps to a crawl stand at the Jackson County Animal Shelter in Talent Friday morning.
‘Betty White Challenge’ brings donations for animal care

A trio of local animal shelters say the recent death of actress Betty White has created a wave of momentum in the community for donations of time, money and good deeds for local cats and dogs.

The beloved “Golden Girls” star, a known animal lover, passed away on New Year’s Eve, just weeks shy of her 100th birthday. Social media users around the world immediately declared White’s birthday, this Monday, as a day for taking action in her name.

Jackson County Animal Shelter director Kim Casey said donations began trickling in almost immediately after New Year’s, in honor of White. Casey said the shelter’s volunteer group, Friends of the Animal Shelter, were encouraging support for the ‘Betty White Challenge’ to be made toward the organization’s “Older Animal Care Fund” (fotas.org/older-pets).

Casey said it is tougher to place older animals, like an FIV-positive cat named Huck, a tuxedo gray kitty with personality to spare, and his care would benefit from donations.

Aside from the specific post by FOTAS, Casey said she and her staff were reluctant to ask for much from an already-supportive community, but preferred to encourage volunteer signups, donations of gently used blankets and towels for animals to sleep on and — a huge need on limited funds — donations of wet and dry food.

“The shelter itself didn’t really push anything for the specific day. My sense was that I’d rather have people donating out of the goodness of their heart and not that we were using a certain day as an opportunity to ask for funds. Our volunteer group did decide to designate it as more of a fundraising opportunity, and that is their job to fund raise for us, so they did a little more of a social media push,” Casey said.

“Since (White) passed away, we had 82 donations who made donations specifically in her honor. And we’ve also had more people donating items to the shelter than average. We feel like we’re already well supported by our community. I think the generosity of people in Jackson County towards animal welfare and rescues is certainly more than anywhere else I’ve ever seen.”

Kristina Ettinger, executive director for Committed Alliance To Strays, said supporters of the cats-only shelter had been especially generous in recent weeks.

“We had a donor offer to meet donations of up to $2,000, so that was really nice. We felt weird about asking for money simply because Betty White passed away. Our feeling was that the challenge is on the community, to do good, not on us to ask,” Ettinger said.

“If they want to make donations in Betty White’s name, we’re not going to tell them no, but we don’t feel right asking for donations. Obviously, there are times we do have to beg for donations for certain things, but we would prefer this come from the giver. If people are looking for ideas, get one of the stray cats running around your neighborhood fixed, so we have less kittens. Feed a feral kitty. There are lots of good deeds to be done.”

Ettinger said a recent adoptee, named after the actress prior to her death, was a reminder of the actresses spunk.

“We did have a cat named Betty White, back in December. I think she got the name because she was a feisty, tough old broad,” Ettinger said.

“She was 19 years old and still kicking. She’d lived outside for a very long time. She was adopted by a family,” Ettinger said.

“All we wanted for her was to find her a home to live out her days in a sunny window with a family to love on her… We put her on our web page, not knowing we would lose Betty White on New Year’s Eve. But she finally got adopted and I think that (White’s death) was probably what drew them in. She was a beautiful seal point. She got her happy ending.”


The Jackson County Animal Shelter will accept in-person donations at its facility, 5595 South Pacific Highway, between Phoenix and Talent. The shelter is closed on Mondays but, anticipating participants in ‘Betty White Day,’ shelter volunteers and staff will be on hand to collect donations.

Needed items include blankets and towels, wet and dry food and kitten formula. For other items, or to donate online to the “Older Animal Care Fund,” visit the FOTAS website, fotas.org/older-pets.

Donations by mail can be sent to: Friends of the Animal Shelter, P.O. Box 1013, Phoenix, 97535.

The Southern Oregon Humane Society will host a shindig in White’s honor on Monday, limited seats available! Hosted by Dancing Cats at Stoneriver Vineyards, attendees will be treated to a glass of wine and spaghetti dinner. Reservations for limited seating can be made by via e-mail, jeffdancingcats@gmail.com or by calling 541.261.8631.

To donate to SoHumane directly, visit online, sohumane.org/donate

Items (cat and dog food, towels and blankets, kitten formula) can be dropped off during shelter hours, noon to 5 p.m., daily.

Committed Alliance To Strays is accepting donations on it’s website, via paypal. The shelter wish list can also be viewed online, kittensandcats.org/donate/wish-list/

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com