Local animal shelters see jump in donations for Betty White’s birthday

The #BettyWhiteChallenge was born on social media, urges $5 donations to local animal rescue organizations

San Antonio – Though Betty White died two-and-a-half weeks ago, fans in San Antonio and the rest of the country still gave gifts on Monday for what would have been her 100th birthday.

Not for the late actress, but in honor of her.

The San Antonio Humane Society and the Animal Defense League of Texas both told KSAT they had seen spikes in donations connected to the #BettyWhiteChallenge. The challenge, which was born out of social media shortly after White’s death on Dec. 31, urges people to donate $5 to an animal rescue organization for the Golden Girls star’s Jan. 17 birthday.

White was a well-known animal welfare advocate, and fans have taken up the call for donations as a way to pay her tribute.

“I just love Betty White. I can’t believe she didn’t make it to her 100th birthday, and I think this is just a great way to celebrate her,” said Tracey Moreno, who was dropping off a check Monday at the Humane Society.

By Monday evening, the Humane Society told KSAT it had received more than $10,000 in donations connected to the challenge since Jan. 1. More than $8,000 of that had come in on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Animal Defense League said it had received just over $13,000 since it began tracking donations related to the challenge on Dec. 31.

Neither donation total includes the value of in-kind donations like toys, treats, or blankets.

The Humane Society decided to name one of its puppies “Betty” in a show of thanks to the donors and the woman who inspired them. Betty and her litter mates will be up for adoption beginning Tuesday.

Humane Society spokeswoman Luci Almanza said the organization hadn’t made a big push for donations connected to the challenge - its Facebook page only shows a post shared from a radio station - and the donations were coming in spontaneously.

“We just want to say thank you to everyone for thinking of us, but we were not expecting this amazing response,” she said.

Animal Defense League of Texas Development and Marketing Manager Michelle Thorson said they had seen numerous donations in the $5 to $10 range, but also larger gifts of hundreds of dollars.

“What we’re also seeing is that these are new donors. They’re younger people that are really getting involved in the social media aspect of it,” Thorson said.

Other organizations found ways to mark White’s birthday, too.

The San Antonio Zoo offered $8 admission on Monday, and San Antonio Pets Alive, which was also looking for donations through the #BettyWhiteChallenge, lowered its adoption fees to $17 over the past weekend.

SNIPSA hosted a pop-up adoption event Monday afternoon, and is hosting another from 6pm - 10pm Monday evening at The Jewel on 1102 South Alamo Street.

About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.