Mar. 28--H OMESTEAD -- There's so much Rinthea Satterlee would do for Safe Haven of Iowa County, if she had the money. Install a washer and dryer. Build a training facility. Add more kennel space.
Satterlee, director of this non-profit animal rescue organization, has a million ideas to improve the lives of the stray animals taken in by Safe Haven. And she might get $1 million to do just that. Safe Haven is one of 20 animal rescue organizations and shelters in the country vying for a $1 million makeover prize from ZooToo.com.
It's an online forum for pet lovers that operates as a user-generated platform, allowing participants to share and receive information based on personal experience. ZooToo.com sponsored its first national Shelter Makeover Contest last year in an effort to connect communities with their shelters. Any U.S. shelter may enter the competition by starting a profile on ZooToo.com. When community members log on to their shelter's page at ZooToo.com, each click, review, journal entry or photo results in points for the shelter. "I received an e-mail from ZooToo six months ago, and instead of deleting it like I usually do, I opened it," Satterlee said. She read the information, registered Safe Haven on the Web site and began posting information about the shelter and its pets. Word spread, thanks to the organization's 70 volunteers, and more people visited the site. By the end of the competition's first round, Safe Haven accumulated enough points to place 14th in the Top 20. "I still can't believe it," Satterlee said. "There were 3,500 shelters across the country in this contest, and Safe Haven, a little shelter in Iowa County, made the Top 20." Safe Haven will receive $5,000 for making the Top 20. If the shelter makes the Top 10, to be announced in Las Vegas next month, it will receive $10,000 and will be in the running for the grand prize. America will vote for its favorite in the Top 10 April 13 through 19. "If we make it to the Top 10, we need everybody in Iowa to vote for us every single day," Satterlee said. The Top 10 shelters will be chosen by ZooToo.com representatives who toured all Top 20 facilities. Three of those representatives visited Safe Haven last week, greeted by dozens of supporters who braved the chilly day to show their support. "Seeing everyone there to support Safe Haven was incredible," said Kathryn McNabb, Safe Haven's dog coordinator.
The representatives touredthe facility, a large white barn leased to the organization at no cost from supporters. Safe Haven moved to the site in June 2007, transforming the open space to accommodate cats and dogs without a home. "They told us if there was an award for doing something with nothing, we would get it," Satterlee said. Safe Haven began in December 2005 with nothing more than a desire to help homeless animals. Satterlee and volunteers worked to find the space and the items necessary to keep animals healthy and happy while waiting to be adopted. It has rescued 625 animals. Walls of photographs inside the barn showcase those who found new homes. "It's our Hall of Fame," Satterlee said. Safe Haven accepts all strays and abandoned animals, even those with special needs. Donations fund Safe Haven's monthly veterinary bills -- the facility averages $5,000 a month in pet care -- as well as food, bedding and toys. And while Safe Haven acts as a temporary home for the animals it houses, everyone works to ensure it doesn't feel that way. "It's more like a family than a group of people and animals," said Karen KolbLawing, Safe Haven's cat coordinator. -- Contact the writer: (319) 398-8434 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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"'Little shelter' that just might: Hall of Fame has steadily grown since 2005 opening." Gazette [Cedar Rapids, IA] 28 Mar. 2009. General OneFile. Web. 30 Oct. 2009.
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