Animal Shelter To Win Extreme Makeover

Earn points for your local animal shelter to qualify the facility for a $1 million upgrade.

Posted: October 20, 2007, 5 a.m. EST

One lucky animal shelter is going to get a state-of-the art renovation next year – worth up to $1 million – and it’s up to a website’s online community to decide which shelters make the final cut.

The former CEO and “Top Cat” of Meow Mix, Richard Thompson, recently launched Zootoo House, a social-networking, opinion- and review-sharing website for animal lovers. When users complete actions such as uploading a photo, writing a review, or discussing news, points accumulate on the user’s account. The points are earned for a shelter of the user’s choosing. The Top 20 animal shelters that finish with the most points will all receive money, but the one that exhibits the most distress as determined by a panel of experts will receive the top prize, up to $1 million. The exact dollar amount will be determined after the shelter is chosen and its’ needs have been assessed.

Participation is free, as Thompson is putting up his own money to see this project through. Zootoo House was launched on Oct. 1, 2007, and the organization’s application for nonprofit status has been submitted and is currently pending.

“It’s my way to give back to the community,” Thompson said. “As CEO of Meow Mix, we gave away millions of products to shelters around the country and I was always amazed that those were our customers in those cages. I wanted to give food to everybody … It’s not a pleasant experience to go into most shelters.”

After the top shelters are determined, Thompson will tour all 20 locations along with other animal experts to determine which shelter is most deserving of the donation. A second-place shelter will receive $10,000, and the 18 others will each receive $5,000.

“I want to create something positive,” he said. “I have no red tape.”

Thompson said he hopes to create and ongoing foundation – with shelter makeovers at least once a year – and likens his goals to a pet version of the popular TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

After months of research, Thompson and his staff compiled a list of approximately 3,500 active animal shelters throughout the United States. All are eligible for the contest, which runs through March 31, 2008. The winners will be announced in April 2008.

The shelters that currently have the most points are South Texas Animal Adoption Resource of Katy, Tex., Animal Shelter Inc., of Sterling, Mass., and Calhoun County Animal Shelter of Battle Creek, Mich.

Thompson served as CEO of Meow Mix from 2001 to 2006, when it was sold to Del Monte. In addition to his renovation project, he’s said he hopes Zootoo House results in more pet adoptions due to increased awareness of shelter locations and needs.

To visit the Zootoo House website, click here.

-Heidi Hatch, Associate News Editor for


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Debbie Bickar   Jerome, ID

3/22/2011 5:26:48 PM

To Whom It May
Will there be any up, and coming shelter
There are so many shelters out there that are barely functional, and so many helpless animals are suffering because of
Though our shelter here is functional, It is still in need of a make over... Our funding here isn't even enough to run it on a full time bases. We have to at times triple up dogs in our kennels We have no room to help cats so they are left out in the streets to suffer.. There is also a sheller in a near by town that is only able to house their dogs in outdoor tiny kennels with dog houses built by the boy scouts... Some of the dogs won't even go inside the house and spend the winter in freezing temps out in the blowing snow...I would love to get an extreme makeover for our local shelter and then have the surrounding shelter be contracted into one nice functioning shelter. That way we won't have to support a lot of barely functional shelter, all the support and funding could go to one awesome shelter.My hopes are to get Animal Planet to take this shelter makeover idea and make a weekly show like the home edition makeover show, so many shelters need help and so many animals are suffering... Thanks for your time, Debbie

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Susan   Alpena, MI

5/11/2010 1:24:21 PM

I was just wondering if there is an up comming make over contest for shelters for 2010? We are a small shelter located in ALpena,, Michigan due to the job loss in has increase the puppies and cats that are left homeless. The shelter is a no kill shelter and could realt use a make over . Thank you for your time also if you have any suggestions I would live to here them.

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Kelly   Lagrange, IN

10/6/2009 12:14:16 PM

I was just wondering if there is an up comming make over contest for shelters between now Oct.2009 through 2010? We are a small shelter located in Lagrange County IN., smack dabb in the middle of puppy mill heaven. Our shelter could realt use a make over . Thank you, Kelly

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Angie Huhman   Columbia, MO

4/15/2009 6:24:42 PM

My daughter Amanda found the contest in a magazine and she and her friend decided to enter our shelter in the competition as a way to help out. We entered 3 months behind the rest of the shelter and went from 859th place to 1st place in just a few months. The points competition ended on March 13th, the girls are both 13 years old, our zootoo visit was on the 13th and the voting started on the 13th so we are hoping to say that 13 is our lucky number. Thanks zootoo for all your help!

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