The ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has announced that it has teamed up with television personality, bestselling author and philanthropist Rachael Ray for the 2012 ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge, with more than $500,000 in prize grants to help shelters save more homeless cats and dogs.

The ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge is a groundbreaking contest that challenges animal shelters across the country to come up with innovative ways to engage their communities and get more homeless cats and dogs into loving homes. Fifty competing shelters across the country will work harder and smarter in order to save at least 300 more cats and dogs during the months of August, September and October 2012 than they did during the same period last year.

The ASPCA and Rachael Ray will award a $100,000 grand prize to the shelter contestant that achieves the greatest increase in lives saved during this three-month period. A second place prize of $25,000 also will be awarded to the shelter with the second greatest increase in lives saved, and the contestant that does the best job of engaging its community members in helping to save more animals will win $25,000. Those organizations that do the best in their divisions will be eligible for between $5,000 and $40,000 in additional grants.

Back for this year’s contest is the two-week-long “qualifying heat” during which shelters will have to be voted in by their fans and supporters. And the root of the contest remains the same: the ASPCA challenges shelters to work with their communities on innovative new approaches for increasing adoptions and reuniting lost pets with their families.

“As the $100K Challenge enters its third year, we are thrilled to be joining forces with Rachael Ray,” said Bert Troughton, vice president of Community Outreach for the ASPCA. “After just two years of the contest, participating shelters have saved 101,263 cats and dogs during the contest periods. With the added support and visibility from a great animal advocate like Rachael Ray, we can help shelters save even more lives.”

“All my life, I’ve been an advocate for animals and a supporter of animal welfare groups,” said Rachael Ray. “My love for animals and for my pit bull, Isaboo, inspired me to create a pet food called Nutrish to raise money for animals in need. I donate 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of Nutrish to organizations like the ASPCA so they can implement programs like the $100K Challenge and support shelters around the country.”

Ray continued, “I have made a personal commitment to helping the millions of cats and dogs each year who find themselves in shelters and are in need of a second chance at a new home and a better life. By partnering with the ASPCA for the $100K Challenge, we will help animal shelters across the country to get more homeless cats and dogs out of shelters and into the loving homes they deserve.”

For more information about the 2012 ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge, visit www.aspca.org/100kchallenge.

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