With less than a week to go in a national three-month contest for up to $100,000, the Canyon County Animal Shelter is ranked in the top three.
The contest is the Rachel Ray Challenge, which is awarding cash to shelters that show the largest increase in lives saved during a three-month period in 2012, compared with the same period last year. Regardless of where, the Canyon shelter finishes, they've saved hundreds of animals (615 more than last year in the first two months alone).
On Thursday, morning radio show host Kevin Miller stepped up to help boost adoptions in the final week of the challenge. Miller is staying around-the-clock in the lobby of the facility. He's broadcasting from 5 a.m.-9 a.m. on KIDO.
"We've got a really packed lobby right now," shelter director Barbara Hutchinson said Thursday afternoon. We're doing a lot of adoptions. He's having a big effect."
Because it's adopting out animals at such a high rate, Canyon County shelter officials say they've notified other shelters in the region that they may be able to find new homes for some of the dogs and cats in their shelters.
Even if they don't take home the top prize, the shelter stands a good chance to win $25,000 for second place or for the community engagement award (you can vote the shelter here), or $20,000 for best in division. They've already qualified for $5,000 for saving at least 300 more animals this year than last.
What would they do with the extra cash? Hutchinson said the shelter needs to improve the accommodations for cats.
"We want to do some cat rooms and things," she said. "We've got terrible cages for the cats. They're really small. We just don't have a good setup for cats."
Hutchinson said the shelter would also hire another vet clinic tech / receptionist. They currently have about 20 full- and part-time staff, and 100 volunteers.
About 5,000 to 6,000 animals come through the shelter each year. The adoption rate has improved from 50 percent to about 96 percent since Hutchinson came aboard a little over a year ago.
Hutchinson they won't find out until Nov. 30 how they've done in the contest. She said it really doesn't matter because so much good has come from participating.
"We have really been in over-drive," Hutchinson said. "What this has done for us — it has gotten us to refine our system, so we're better than we were. We've gotten faster at moving all these animals through, and it's really making a difference. Plus, our name has gotten out there so much to the community."
The Canyon County Animal Shelter will be open extended hours on Friday night — until 8 p.m. The shelter is at 5801 Graye Lane in Caldwell. 455-5920.