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Animal Care Services Awarded $100,000 In Rachael Ray Challenge

Drummers and dancers dressed in brightly-colored costumes from the percussion and dance company, Samba Vida, helped celebrate an accomplishment never before achieved by San Antonio’s Animal Care Services.

The award for saving 1,384 more dogs and cats than the same three months in 2011 – August, September, and October – garnered the shelter a $100,000 prize.

But the real prize, said ACS Director Kathy Davis, is the animals that are happy and healthy today because of the community’s efforts to choose adoption.

“We have pure breeds, we have Labradors, we've got little pets, big pets, all kinds of pets,” said Davis. “We have just the right pet for what they're looking for."

The challenge is headed up by television star Rachael Ray, who issued a goal to shelters across the nation. Shelters in Idaho and Pennsylvania each won $25,000, and 20 more shelters won $5,000 or more for increasing their live release rates.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals awarded the top prize, though, to San Antonio. In all, ACS saved 4,054 animals in three months.

ASPCA Vice President Bert Traughton said it’s the third year for the ASPCA Rachel Ray $100K Challenge.

"But this is the first year that three agencies in the country increased lives saved by over 1,000, and San Antonio Animal Care Services has gone beyond the limit and saved 1,384 more lives in just three months,” she said.  “No one has ever done that before."

Davis said ACS is strategizing new and innovative ways to get the community involved with the shelter and adopting animals. Hardly able to speak during the check presentation ceremony, Davis was overcome with emotion. Just three months on the job, she admits the bar has already been set high, but she also knows there is more work to be done.

"We have to obviously talk to more people, we have to use the media in a better way, we have to use our social media networks in order to help people understand that we've got great pets here,” she said.