Next week, the clock starts on volunteers for the Denton Animal Shelter as they work to meet the next step of a nationwide challenge for a major grant.
Between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31, the shelter and its volunteers must adopt out 958 dogs and cats — about 11 animals a day — to advance to the final round of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ $100,000 Rachael Ray Challenge.
Denton was the only North Texas city, of 50 cities nationwide, to make it to the “Adopt-A-Thon” round. Many residents voted online to keep Denton in the race during the first round, according to Bette Sherman of the Denton Animal Shelter Foundation.
That step will be difficult, she said.
“The sheer numbers are an issue for Denton, since the size of the shelter is limited to 114 animals,” Sherman said.
Denton is competing against many larger cities in its geographical division, including Houston, San Antonio and Beaumont, to make it to the third round.
The ASPCA has encouraged Denton to work with other area cities that have adoptable animals to make its goal, Sherman said. Shelter workers have already reached out to Hickory Creek and Pilot Point for partnerships.
The foundation has planned a number of adoption events to meet the challenge, beginning with a kickoff event the first weekend in August.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5, the shelter will offer free food and activities, in addition to pet vaccinations and microchips. Provided by the Texas Coalition for the Protection of Animals, the low-cost clinic for shots and microchips will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday and from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday.
The foundation is underwriting adoption fees and vet services so that the shelter can offer discounts, not only at the kickoff but also periodically during the challenge period. At the kickoff, it will cost only $25 to adopt a dog and $10 to adopt a cat.
The foundation will continue to underwrite adoption costs with two promotions in the coming weeks. From August through October, every Tuesday will be “Two-Tone Tuesdays,” when all pets that are predominantly two colors can be adopted at a 50 percent discount. On “Black Fridays,” all black pets can be adopted at a 50 percent discount.
The shelter will open every Sunday in August from noon to 5 p.m. to encourage adoptions.
If Denton can lead its division in adoptions — a figure that is calculated proportionately — it could win $5,000 to help in meeting the Adopt-A-Thon challenge, according to Joyce Swegle, foundation volunteer.
Sherman estimated it has cost the foundation about $3,000 to participate in the contest so far, and it will cost another $5,000 to continue to market the city’s participation.
The money spent subsidizing adoptions, about $15,000, would likely have been spent on adoptions anyway, she said.
The foundation is planning other special events in October to help the group meet the goal, including a final event on Oct. 27 — an adoption fair at the North Texas State Fairgrounds. The fair will be open to all shelters and rescue groups in the area, although Denton cannot count adoptions made by rescue groups, only those made by partner cities, Sherman said.
Should Denton make it to the third portion of the challenge, there will be another round of online voting, Swegle said.
Even if Denton doesn’t win the big crown, the challenge includes a prize purse for congeniality.
“There is a $25,000 prize for community engagement,” she said.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is email@example.com .
IF YOU GO
• What: Adopt-A-Thon kickoff
• Where: Denton Animal Shelter, 300 S. Woodrow Lane
• When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 4; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5
• What: Free food, fun activities and discount adoptions with free T-shirts for adopters. Also, low-cost vaccination and microchip clinic for dogs (on leashes) and cats (in carriers) by Texas Coalition for the Protection of Animals from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday and noon to 2 p.m. Sunday
• More information: call 940-349-7594.