A viral social media movement urges people to donate five dollars to a local animal shelter on January 17th, what would have been the 100th birthday of the late actress and animal advocate Betty White.
Tom Colvin, CEO of the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, says generous pet lovers don’t necessarily need to wait until the 17th, as financial gifts can be made at any time online.
“Absolutely,” Colvin says. “They certainly can do that and we’d love to see those donations coming in — of any size.” The A-R-L is Iowa’s largest nonprofit animal shelter, caring for many thousands of pets each year. Colvin says only about 20% of the facility’s budget comes from tax dollars for things like housing strays or operating animal control.
Colvin says, “Eighty percent of what we do, all of the programs that we have that help in the community and pay for that extra surgery than an animal might need to be ready for adoption, all of that is dependent on donations.”
The ARL serves pets — and people — across Iowa through its programs, which include pet adoption, humane education, pet behavior training, spay/neuter, animal cruelty intervention, and more. White died on December 31st of last year, just 18 days shy of reaching the century mark. Colvin recalls how White had a special ability to light up a room.
“I remember being at a conference, it may have even been in the late 70s, where she came and spoke just briefly,” Colvin says. “When she walked in the room, standing ovation. Everybody, even back then, was just so thankful to her to keep pets on the forefront of people’s minds.”
Even if you don’t make a donation on January 17th, Colvin says Iowans should make an effort to at least stop for a moment to reflect on the joy animals bring to our world.
“It is a day that people can think about pets and how Betty White always spoke fondly of pets and the importance of being kind to animals,” Colvin says. “Just all of that positive energy that she always seemed to generate. It’s also very valuable from just a day we can particularly think of that as well.”
There are multiple ways to make donations to the ARL, one-time, monthly or through any of several programs, like the Full Bellies Food Fund, the Miracle Medical Fund or Paw It Forward.