Betty White Challenge raises over $30,000 for animal welfare organizations in Prince Edward Island

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CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI — Lori Burnell posted the post on social media without much expectation.

“I put it there hoping people would consider donating in memory of Betty White because she was a huge animal lover. I’m just fascinated that, not just for our organization, but for the Humane Society and Wildlife Rescue, that people have been so generous in donating.

Lori Burnell is the Founder and President of Keeping Cats Homed Inc. – Contribution

Burnell’s organization, Keeping Cats Home Inc., recently received just under $2,000 in donations as part of the Betty White Challenge, a social media fundraiser in honor of the late actor’s 100th birthday, Burnell said.

“Seeing all these donations arrive was a bit overwhelming. I was very surprised.”

Keeping Cats Homed takes in stray kittens, makes sure they are socialized, neutered or neutered and gives them a home.

The biggest expense associated with this work is veterinary bills, and that’s where the donations will go, Burnell said.

“During the busiest months of the year for us, our vet bills can run between $2,000 and $4,000 a month. So it’s quite substantial.

Burnell also noted how nice it was for the organization to get this money without having to fundraise.

human society

Ashley Travis, Development and Communications Coordinator with the Humane Society of PEI., says the same thing.

“We were so impressed with something that we really didn’t need to do much promotion for. It took on a life of its own, basically.

Already adopted, Alaska the kitten is a bit shy in her hideout at the PEI Humane Society.  -Logan MacLean
Already adopted, Alaska the kitten is a bit shy in her hideout at the PEI Humane Society. -Logan MacLean

The company has received nearly $25,000 in donations, which will go to its large annual budget, Travis said.

“We can incur anywhere around $1 million in general operational costs each year, and with last year being the busiest year we’ve had since we opened in the 70s, we really need that in this moment.”


In one look

  • The Betty White Challenge fundraiser was launched by White fans after the 99-year-old actor died in December.
  • White was a lifelong animal lover and advocate.
  • Online fundraisers began after the “Betty White Challenge” hashtag swept across social media, asking people to donate to local animal shelters in her memory.
  • $5 was the suggested donation, but PEI organizations. received varying amounts.
  • The fundraiser ended on January 17, the late actor’s 100th birthday.

Snowball the bunny is about six months old and currently staying at the PEI Humane Society.  -Logan MacLean
Snowball the bunny is about six months old and currently staying at the PEI Humane Society. -Logan MacLean

Normally, the society only sees such large donations at its annual fall fundraiser, Travis said.

“To see something like this follow immediately after that, it’s great to know that the community is supporting us in this way.”

Wild and domestic

The sentiment is similar at PEI Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Inc., which received $3,700 in donations this week.

“I feel loved,” said Candy Gallant, owner and operator of the organization.

“It’s nice to know that everyone who brought animals to me over the past 50 years was sincere in their love of animals. Everyone who donated, including people I didn’t didn’t recognize the name, all said, “You picked up a parakeet for me” or “You picked up a baby starling or an injured crow”.

Candy Gallant is the owner and operator of PEI Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Inc. - Colin MacLean
Candy Gallant is the owner and operator of PEI Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Inc. – Colin MacLean

For years, customers have told Gallant that one day there will be a way to show their support.

“And they did. I am in shock, grateful that so many people care about wildlife and not just pets,” she said.

Gallant is the first person on PEI. to receive a permit to rehabilitate wild animals, but this work comes with certain needs. A big one is space.

Juno the kitten, left, stares at Ashley Travis at the PEI Humane Society.  -Logan MacLean
Juno the kitten, left, stares at Ashley Travis at the PEI Humane Society. -Logan MacLean

Currently, she has a crow, a raven, a mourning dove and three pigeons, all in her living room.

Although Gallant doesn’t yet know where the donation money will go, she wants to buy lumber to build a new structure to house the animals.

Eventually, the septuagenarian, supposed to be retired, hopes to pass on her work to the next generation. A permanent space could help with that, she said.

“It would (be) a complete 180 to take an animal and throw it in a cage and let people pay to come see it (like you do with a zoo).”

Logan MacLean is a reporter for SaltWire Network in Prince Edward Island.

Twitter.com/loganmaclean94

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