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New West residents rallying in support of Betty White Challenge

Where’s the Beef? event raises more than $2,300

Local animal organizations are getting a financial boost from the Betty White Challenge.

The beloved actress and animal lover passed away on Dec. 31, 2021 at the age of 99. In honour of what would have been her 100th birthday on Jan. 17, people are participating in the #BettyWhiteChallenge, which asks people to donate $5 (or whatever they can afford) to animal welfare organizations.

Margie Fox, an animal services officer at the city’s animal shelter, said the shelter is always very appreciative of donations. While the shelter has a budget for spay, neuter and vaccine services, she said it has a modest budget for other types of veterinarian care.

“So, things like finding injured stray animals would need care or even pets that have been in our care for awhile and have different health concerns pop up from time to time. A lot of the times that is what those donations go towards,” she said. “We do sometimes also get to use donated money for things like fun things, like animal enrichment – buying them agility equipment or toys or that kind of thing. But mostly it goes towards veterinary care.”

As part of the challenge, Fox said a community dropped off an envelope containing a donation to the shelter and other donations have been made to the shelter via the Canada Helps website.

Details about financial and other donations accepted by the animal shelter are found on the city’s website, (Go to the Service tab and click on Animal Services.)

On Jan. 16, dozens of dogs dined on roast beef at Greens and Beans Deli, which held a Where’s the Beef? fundraiser as part of the  Betty White Challenge. It was held in memory of Chica, a longtime canine customer at the deli, and featured Chica’s favourite treat – roast beef and cream cheese on toast.

Leona Green, co-owner of Greens and Beans, estimates about 50 dogs attended the fundraiser.

“It was hard to count because they kept moving around,” she said.

As of Monday morning, the fundraiser had raised more than $2,300, and donations are still coming in.

Rural dogs in need

Proceeds from the by-donation fundraiser are going to the Wild West Animal League in White's name. The Wild West Animal League supports animals in remote and rural areas of B.C.

Sapperton resident April Fahr helped establish the registered non-profit society after a fellow animal lover moved from Metro Vancouver to the Chilcotin region of B.C. and discovered a great need exists for resources for dogs

“She was really struck by what she saw up there,” Fahr said. “There is a lot of dogs that weren’t even owned at all – they just kind of roamed loose in remote communities and they were cared for by the community, lots of people who just didn’t have access to spay /neuter. If you don’t have a lot of money and you have to basically take a full day to get back and forth to the vet, or stay overnight, spaying your cat or dog is not something you are going to do.”

The Wild West Animal League helps support spaying and neutering of dogs, and also transfers litters to shelters or rescues outside of the community. Other services include support and outreach, such as helping people figure out safe containment methods so their dogs aren’t running loose and being hit by vehicles.

“We help out other communities as well,” Fahr said. “When there were wild fires and floods, we sent pallets of food – in partnership with the local Bosley’s.”

Fahr, who had Chica for 13 years after getting her from a rescue group, is grateful that Chica helped inspire the Where’s the Beef? event and was touched by all the people who supported the fundraiser.

“Just a fun day,” she said. “All the dogs had a great time. The people were so supportive and people were so generous.”

Fahr said the Betty White Challenge comes at a post-Christmas time of the year when charities often struggle to get donations.

“If everybody gets into the habit of donating even just $5 in mid-January for Betty White, I just think that is such a fantastic initiative and can do so much good,” she said. “I do feel that animals have a special place in our homes and in our hearts, and people are always very generous to animal charities. There are so many out there to support, everything from your local SPCA or our local shelter to these grassroots groups.”

Fahr believes the Betty White Challenge is a “beautiful memorial” to a woman who was well-known for her love of animals. She noted there are all sorts of animal rescues that would welcome donations in White’s honour.

“I can tell you, as an animal lover, I think Betty would be proud,” she said.

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus