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Winner of First Shelter Makeover Contest Announced
May 22, 2008 (10:05 AM EDT)

SECAUCUS, N.J., May 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Richard Thompson, founder of * -- the pet lover's website -- today announced the winner of the first Shelter Makeover Contest. was awarded the shelter makeover valued at up to one million dollars* and will begin planning renovations immediately. The first runner-up, Humane Society of the Ohio Valley in Marietta, OH, received $20,000, and the second runner-up, SPCA of Jefferson County in Watertown, NY, received $10,000. Seventeen other shelters were awarded $6,000 each by last week at the Humane Society of the United States Animal Care Expo.

"We are delighted to help all these wonderful shelters achieve their goals," Thompson said, in announcing that was doubling the previously-announced $10,000 and $5,000 awards for the first and second runners-up. "We hope that increasing the awards for the runners-up will further help to provide needy animals with a proper place to live while awaiting adoption." Thompson added that the awards for the seventeen other shelters in the contest's top twenty had also been increased from $5,000 to $6,000, due to the generosity of the PEDIGREE Adoption Drive Foundation, a Shelter Makeover Contest partner.

Thompson, who visited each of the 20 Finalist Shelters before the winner was chosen, called making the decision on the winner "one of the hardest things I have ever done. Stray Rescue of St. Louis, met all the criteria we were looking for in terms of need, community commitment, best practices, and efforts to get more animals adopted, but so did many of the other finalists," Thompson said. "What gave Stray Rescue of St. Louis a bit of an edge was the way they've taken the initiative to gather resources throughout their community to be helpful to their shelter. We want to see every shelter rally their community the way Randy Grim of Stray Rescue has done."

More than 1,000 shelters across America participated in the first Shelter Makeover Contest, whose principal partners were the and . The top 20 finalists were the shelters who accumulated the most points on between October 1, 2007 and March 31, 2008.

"A major goal of the Shelter Makeover Program is to generate national and local awareness of animal shelters and encourage community involvement," said Thompson. "When we started the program, some 70% of Americans did not even know where their local shelter was located. We're overwhelmed by the support the Shelter Makeover Program has received from local communities, as well as from media nationwide. Because of that, every shelter who participated in this contest is a winner. We get thank-you notes from shelters every day telling us that the program has helped to put their shelter on the map, increasing both donations and adoptions."

Thompson was assisted in judging the contest by Wayne Pacelle, CEO of The Humane Society of the United States and other members of the HSUS; John Anton, Marketing Director of PEDIGREE(R) and PEDIGREE Adoption Drive Board Member; and Bill Meade, CEO of Shelter Planners of America.

"The HSUS is happy to partner with to help animal shelters in their life-saving mission," said Pacelle. "Helping shelters has always been a vital part of our mission, and this is an exciting program to strengthen these community-based institutions."

The PEDIGREE Adoption Drive Foundation will support the shelter makeover with a grant to the winning shelter. "As a supporter of shelter and breed rescues, this partnership was a natural fit," said Anton. "We hope this contest will generate excitement among animal lovers everywhere."

* Actual makeover value depends on the condition of the shelter and judgment of the Advisory Board. * Note to webmasters: Please make sure the hyperlinked URL is

and not HASH(0x153a430) .

, which launched in October 2007, is a pet community website that offers a new way to help pets. People share information and connect with other pet lovers, and rewards their activity with contributions to animal shelters and rescue groups. is the fastest growing pet website and the largest pet community site for lovers of all types of pets. The website offers members the ability to rate and review products and services, watch and discuss pet news, and help other pet lovers make the right decisions for their pets.

"During my years in the pet food industry, I've seen the dedication and commitment of the people who keep our shelters operating and who save the lives of thousands of animals every day," said Richard Thompson, Founder of . "Yet despite all their hard work, many shelters lack the financial resources and manpower to provide a proper place for animals to live while pursuing the ultimate goal -- finding a permanent, loving home for every pet. That's why I started , to take us one step closer to achieving that goal."

The PEDIGREE Adoption Drive Foundation is a newly-established 501(c)(3) private foundation dedicated to helping dogs in need find loving homes by supporting the good work of shelters and breed rescue organizations throughout the country. Make tax-deductible donations online or to apply for a grant, log onto . All donations go directly to help us help dogs. PEDIGREE(R) is a trademark of Mars, Incorporated.

CONTACT: Lee Makofsky,, or Helen Magg,, both of Bender Hammerling Group, +1-973-744-0707,

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