WILMINGTON — At midnight on January 17 — what would have been the late Betty White’s 100th birthday — the Clinton County Humane Society posted a link on its Facebook page. It encouraged followers to donate to the shelter as part of the “Betty White Challenge,” an online movement that started shortly after the celebrity’s death on December 31.
The volunteers at the shelter at 1760 Fife Ave. hoped to perhaps raise a couple hundred dollars, which they knew would help with the veterinary costs of 11 very young puppies that recently arrived at the shelter.
But 24 hours later, by the end of Betty White’s 100th birthday, nearly a hundred people had donated a total of $4,116 via Facebook, PayPal, or in the form of paper checks, with more than $2,400 additional donations trickling in over the next couple of days, including a $2,000 check that was a big surprise to the volunteers at the shelter.
“To say we were thrilled would be an understatement — we rely solely on donations and adoption fees,” said Eileen Brady, a longtime CCHS volunteer. “And when it comes to animals, our volunteers and our county dog warden often see the worst in people. But Betty White, who seems universally beloved, somehow appealed to the better angels of our nature. What she inspired was a beautiful gift — in more ways than one.”
Brady said that people donated between $2 and $200 at a time, and many of them thanked the shelter volunteers for what they do, sharing pictures of animals they have adopted from the Clinton County Humane Society.
“We have many repeat adopters from all over, which speaks well of the work our volunteers do,” Brady said.
One donor from Kentucky had adopted her dog Walter from CCHS in 2009. Along with a donation, she wrote that Walter had died in her arms that morning.
In thanking the donor, the shelter told her that she had given her dog a truly forever home where he was loved deeply, and that’s all that volunteers can ask for the animals who come through their doors.
In her 2011 memoir, Betty White called her parents “genuine animal nuts,” saying they often took in stray animals whose owners couldn’t care for them, especially during the Great Depression. “We wound up with 26 dogs once,” she told People magazine in 1999.
On the CCHS Facebook post, donors commented with pictures of their adopted animals.
Dog adopter Carrie Karasiewicz wrote, “CCHS alumni Milo wanted to make a donation! We adopted him in January 2018 and he’s living his best life here in Michigan!”
Cat adopter Jay Lyon wrote, “In honor of the late, great Betty White, and out of love for my wonderful Rodimus, who I adopted from this shelter back in March of 2020, happy to donate!”
In 2021, the Clinton County Humane Society adopted more than 157 felines, 177 canines, and three chickens, with 21 of those animals adopted out of state. A total of more than 8,850 animals have been adopted since the shelter opened in 2003.
The 11 puppies taken in by the Clinton County Humane Society are all getting fed now and vaccinated. They and their mothers are warm and safe now.
One of the mother dogs was given her name on January 17: She is called Betty.
For more on the CCHS and/or to donate, visit http://clintoncohumanesociety.org . They are on Facebook @ClintonCountyHumaneSocietyOhio .