betty white with a puppy licking her cheek

Betty White

There are moments when our attention is brought to issues that exist all the time. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, whether it be wearing pink or growing a mustache for Cancer Awareness, or wearing an Orange Shirt to remember Every Child Matters, these reminders can make a huge difference to these causes.

Case in point, Betty White. Her recent and tragic passing brought her passion for animals to the forefront, and many rescues and charities got a huge and badly needed bump.

Fundraising is a thankless job, and one that most groups have a hard time finding volunteers to do. There is a never ending line of people who want to pet puppies, and thankfully a fair number who will provide short term fosters for emergency cases, but finding a volunteer to go out and get people to part with cash so that bills can be paid is nigh on impossible for most groups.

Sure, bake sales, raffles, auctions are fairly easy to run and will generate some funds, and most small rescues have volunteers that will stage these events. Some rescues have “angels” who can be called upon when things get dire as well. And thank goodness for them. Many retail stores and manufacturers of pet products also donate money, product or help with awareness, all of which help save many animals lives. And, most rescues have a veterinarian/clinic that provides services at a discount, and allows the rescue to run up a tab, sometimes to a very generous amount.

The rest of the year, between events, the need does not stop. Many of the smaller rescues have to impose intake freezes because they just have no more credit at the veterinarian or no reserves of cash or food for incoming animals. When this happens, animals can end up in “kill shelters” or worse, cannot be rescued at all.

While the outpouring of support for animal rescues and charities thanks to the #BettyWhiteChallenge was remarkable and welcome, we do need to find a way to keep these organizations funded so they can do their noble work.

One idea that I am going to start is an annual donation on adoption day. We brought Leia home on April 25th. We have no idea what her birthday is (or even birth year, but that’s another story), so to celebrate her coming to her forever home, I am going to make an annual donation to the rescue (in this case, Jenn’s Furry Friends) in celebration on this day. While we did pay an adoption fee, we know that did not come close to covering the expenses involved in her rescue, and whenever we have a chance, we try to help some more.

I will put forward for all the adoptive parents out there to do the same. Whether it is $10, $100 or $1000, it will help. We cannot put a price on the love our pets offer us, but a donation of what we can afford on adoption day will mean a donation stream not linked to a calendar date or a celebrity’s passing.

If everyone did this, rescues would have a small but constant donation stream to augment their volunteer fundraising efforts.

Betty White brought much laughter into our lives with her acting career. Her efforts on behalf of animals, though, benefitted those that do not have a voice. “My life is half animals and half show-business, the two things I love most. You can’t ask for better than that,” White summarized her world to PEOPLE in 2010. The recent surge in donations to animal rescues is as befitting a tribute as one could devise to celebrate her life. Thank you, Betty.

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