Manitoba animal rescue agencies are thanking Betty White for being a friend.
Organizations across the province have seen an up-tick in donations since the Golden Girl’s death at 99 on Dec. 31.
And they are expecting more today — what would have been White’s 100th birthday — as part of the Betty White Challenge. The North American social media campaign is encouraging animal lovers to donate a minimum of $5 to their local rescue organization in the beloved TV star’s name.
"We are getting $5 donations and some as high as $50," said Carla Irvine, executive director of the Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter. "It is very, very nice — it is very welcome, too. And we will give tax receipts for all of the donations, even the $5 ones.
"It will all go to the animals we see and who are in our care. We’re seeing lots of incidents of frostbite right now. There are lots of dogs and cats suffering right now."
White, a lifelong animal rights activist, supported zoos in Los Angeles and Columbus, Ohio, and even wrote a book about her passion for animals.
"This campaign is so nice," said Irvine. "She was just so loved by everybody. You could almost see the kindness coming from her. And animals know an animal lover."
Lenore Hume, of the Winnipeg Humane Society, said it has already received a few hundred dollars in donations — and it’s expecting more, thanks to the former Mary Tyler Moore star.
"It has been amazing," Hume said. "This campaign has definitely travelled from the U.S. to Canada. We are expecting Monday to be a little bit busy with donations on challenge day itself.
"We’re happy whenever anyone makes a donation."
Jenn Taplin, a director of Manitoba Mutts, said the organization has received a few donations so far, but expect more today.
"We think it’s an amazing initiative to honour such a wonderful animal advocate," said Taplin.
"Out of the sadness of her death, awareness about rescues, shelters and ultimately responsible pet ownership is getting out there and it’s fantastic. We hope that rescues and shelters around the world are inundated with funds to continue to help animals in Betty’s name."
Lynn Scott, of Craig Street Cats, said they’ve received a few donations already to help her organization look after the 100 cats they have at their adoption centre, the 100 in foster care, and the 500 felines they care for on the street.
"It would be great if White’s birthday became an annual giving event to animal welfare agencies, much like Giving Tuesday has gone annual," said Scott. "Wouldn’t that just be wonderful?
"What a tribute to Betty White that would be."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.