This challenge is funded by Maddie’s Fund® and Michelson Found Animals Foundation, in collaboration with Adoptimize, the ASPCA, The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement, Best Friends Animal Society, HeARTS Speak, the Humane Society of the United States, National Animal Care and Control Association and Petco Foundation.

Reuniting pets with their families!

There’s no place like home for a lost pet, especially the home that’s missing them!

Looking for a way to keep more pets in their home and out of the shelter and a chance at $150,000 in grant prizes? Join us for the first ever Return to Home (traditionally known as "Return to Owner”) challenge that’s all about reuniting pets with their families ASAP! Because they already have a family that loves them, they just need a little help finding their way back home. That’s where YOU come in. (No wizardry necessary!)

The goal of the Challenge is to make Return to Home (RTH) part of your culture. We know it doesn’t happen overnight but small steps lead to BIG results. Results like cost savings, feel good reunions and more. It just takes a little brains, heart and courage to try something new. It could be anything and everything from updating your website to encouraging all animals in the community to have identification to modifying regulations around Return to Home. Are you up for the challenge?

Of course, we’re here to help you along the way. (Think of us as your Good Witch.) We’ll have resources, helpful tips and weekly huddles during the prep period to help set you up for success. You’ll hear from communities across the country about how they're decreasing costs and returning pets home before they even make it to the shelter, all while enhancing the relationship with their community. And we’ll share ideas to help you make your community part of the solution.

All that’s left is to grab your ruby kicks, click your heels together and magically get pets back to where they belong!

Registration is Closed

All Challenge Participants have been notified. If you applied and haven't heard from us, or if you have any additional questions, please contact our Grants Team at (925) 310-5450 or Please note, our call and email volume is very high during application cycles, and our response may be up to 48 hours.

Challenge Details:

The Challenge is open to organizations who want to start or expand their Return to Home program for dogs and cats. Return to Home programs that will be considered are those that actively reunite the animal with their owner in the field or before adoption, transfer or other outcomes. As part of registering for this Challenge, organizations will be asked to submit their Return to Home rates for the 2019 and 2020 calendar years. (Organizations will also share their Return to Home rate during the Challenge Period of March 1 – March 31, 2021 as part of their Participation Report.)

Important Dates:

  • Registration Period: Monday, January 11, 2021 – Monday, January 18, 2021 at 5pm PST (Apply through our grants portal until 5pm PST on January 18, 2021)
  • Prep Period: February 1 – 28, 2021. This is your chance to prepare for your new Return to Home practices (update policies/procedures, train staff, etc.)
  • Challenge Period: March 1 – 31, 2021. During this time, you will pilot your new Return to Home practices.
  • Participation Reports Due: Thursday, April 15, 2021 (find a sample of that report here)
  • Final Report (via Zoom Huddle) for Award Winners: Early- to mid-July 2021 (find sample questions here)

To be considered to PARTICIPATE in this Challenge, your organization must:

  • Be a U.S.-based government animal shelter or 501c3 shelter or rescue organization focused on dogs and/or cats.
  • Be an active participant in Shelter Animals Count. (If you are awarded a grant prize from this Challenge, you agree to join the Maddie’s Fund Coalition in Shelter Animals Count.)
  • Be current on all grant reporting for any prior Maddie's Fund grants.
  • Register for the Challenge by submitting a complete application through the Maddie's Fund Grants Portal. You will be notified by our team by January 29, 2021 if you meet the eligibility requirements to participate in the Challenge.

To be considered for an AWARD from this Challenge, your organization must:

  • Meet the requirements above.
  • Submit the Participation Report (due April 15, 2021 by 5pm PST). Find a sample of this report here. Please note, this sample is provided for reference only and questions are subject to change.

Additionally, if you are selected as an award winner from this Challenge, there’s a final report via Zoom to be scheduled for early July 2021. Find a sample of this report here. Please note, this sample is provided for reference only and questions are subject to change.

As an added incentive, The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement will award up to 15 individual annual memberships and 50 organizations will be chosen to win a FREE registration for The Association’s next virtual conference!

In addition, Adoptimize is offering every participating shelter FREE Adoptimize for one year, with a $500 prize for the highest improvement in Return to Home rates with Adoptimize AND a special $50 bonus for any shelter that increases their cat Return to Home rate by 25% with Adoptimize (note: due to reporting compatibility, prize eligibility is limited to shelters that run Shelterluv, Shelterbuddy, PetPoint and/or Chameleon animal management systems, but any shelter or rescue can sign up to use Adoptimize for free for a year).

Please note that all applications and reports may be reviewed by Challenge partners. You may also receive emails from Challenge partners during the duration of the Challenge.


Browse our growing list of Return to Home resources from Challenge partners, organized by the Return to Home practice they fall into!


Want ideas and inspiration for increasing your Return to Home rate? We'll be hosting 8 huddles throughout the month of February, on every Tuesday (10am PST) and Thursday (1pm PST). Each huddle will cover one area or "practice" of Return to Home and will likely have two presenters. Huddles will include a total of 20 minutes of presentation time and 20 minutes for Q and A, with the exception of the technology huddle. Here's a list of all practices.

Register now for any that you wish to attend!

Join the No Place Like Home Challenge group on Maddie’s® Pet Forum

Here you will connect with other challenge participants and share your success stories, tips and brainstorm. The end goal is to make Return to Home part of your culture and return as many pets home as possible, so let’s help each other out! Join now!

Get Social!

Please feel free to share the No Place Like Home Challenge through your organization's communication channels. To save, right-click the image and 'save image as' to your computer. Follow and use #NPLHC and #GetLostPetsHome with your posts so we can see and share your amazing work!

Challenge Partners