Our Open Arms Challenge was all about opening our hearts and minds to more accessible and inclusive practices. This Challenge was funded by Maddie’s Fund® and Michelson Found Animals Foundation and in collaboration with Adopt-A-Pet.com, Adoptimize, American Pets Alive!, ASPCA, The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement, BISSELL Pet Foundation, Best Friends Animal Society, Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity (CARE), HeARTS Speak, Humane Society of the United States, National Animal Care and Control Association, Petco Love, Petfinder Foundation, and PetSmart Charities.


From November 22, 2021 to January 3, 2022, animal shelters and rescue organizations piloted new approaches that opened doors to adopters and volunteers and welcomed their entire community. The 194 participating organizations embraced inclusive policies, including translating materials into multiple languages, creating new partnerships with organizations outside of animal welfare and removing barriers to adoption, foster and volunteering. These amazing efforts resulted in adoption of 47,341 dogs and cats and support for 33,565 volunteers and 25,296 foster caregivers during the Challenge Period!

Please help us congratulate our winners! Maddie’s Fund and Michelson Found Animals Foundation awarded prizes for Best Overall Efforts, Robust Programs, and Use of Open and Welcoming Practices, plus 10 Random Winners, as follows.

Best Overall Effort: $10,000

  • Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center, MD
  • Pinellas County Animal Services, FL

Robust Programs: $5,000

  • Animal Friends of the Valleys, CA
  • Animal Harbor, TN
  • Beautiful Together, NC
  • Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition, Inc, NY
  • Broward County Animal Care, FL
  • Saint Louis County Animal Care and Control, MO
  • Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Hancock County, ME
  • Souris Valley Animal Shelter, ND
  • SPCA of Brevard, FL
  • Washington County Humane Society, WI

Most Effective Use of Open and Welcoming Menu Items: $3,000

Processes are equitable and inclusive
  • Animal Care of Davis County, UT
  • Baywater Animal Rescue, MD
  • Hands and Feet Pet Advocates, TN
  • Hope Animal Rescue, NC
  • Lifeline Animal Project, GA
  • Salem Friends of Felines, OR
  • Shelter from the Storm, WI
  • Stray Paws Animal Haven, CA

Customer success is ensured through customer service:

  • Advocates for Abused and Abandoned Pets, VA
  • Austin Pets Alive, TX
  • Idaho Falls Animal Services, ID
  • Kudzu Cat Alliance, GA
  • Oakland Animal Services, CA
  • SPCA of Texas, TX
  • St. Joseph Animal Control and Rescue, MO
  • Vanderburgh Humane Society, Inc., IN

Marketing and communications are directed towards entire community:

  • Animal Allies Humane Society, MN
  • Dallas Animal Services, TX
  • Espanola Valley Humane Society, NM
  • Fairfield County Dog Adoption Center and Shelter, OH
  • Kittykind, NY
  • Louisa County Animal Shelter, VA
  • Santa Barbara County Animal Services, CA
  • Snake River Animal Shelter, Inc., ID

Organization embraces an open and welcoming culture

  • Companion Animal Alliance, LA
  • Humane Society of Tulsa, OK
  • Its Meow or Never for Ferals, FL
  • Kansas City Pet Project, MO
  • Michigan Humane, MI
  • Motley Zoo Animal Rescue, WA
  • Pet Network Humane Society, NV
  • Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary, WI

Organization creates partnerships with other organizations:

  • Animal Rescue League of Berks County, PA
  • Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, MD
  • Best Friends for Life, TX
  • Dutchess County SPCA, NY
  • Heaven Can Wait Animal Society, NV
  • Karma Cat Rescue, CA
  • Miami Animal Rescue, FL
  • Roanoke Valley SPCA, VA

Randomly Selected Winners: $1,000

  • Abandoned Animal Rescue, TX
  • Animal Friends of Connecticut, CT
  • Cabot Animal Support Services, AR
  • King's Harvest Pet Rescue, IA
  • Little Traverse Bay Humane Society, MI
  • Miami-Dade County Animal Services, FL
  • Neenah Animal Shelter, WI
  • Purrfect Pals, WA
  • Shelton Animal Services, WA
  • The Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter and Sanctuary, AZ

Prizes from Adoptimize

Adoptmize provided free 6-month app access to every participating organization and custom pet portrait mugs to the winning organization's new adopters for one month for free.

Please email jessica.schleder@adoptimize.co for any questions about the prizes from Adoptimize.

Prizes from BISSELL Pet Foundation

  • Flager Humane Society, FL
  • Louisa County Animal Shelter, VA
  • Vanderburg Humane Society, IL

Prizes from National Animal Care and Control Association

  • Hardin County, KY: One year agency membership
  • Liberty County Animal Services, GA: Scholarship funds for the online Animal Control Officer Certification
  • St. Louis Animal Control, MO: Feature in the Spring 2022 NACA Animal Care and Control News Magazine

If your organization is listed here as a winner and you have not heard from NACA Animal Care and Control Association, please email jowen@nacanet.org.

Prizes from The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement

The following organizations received a coupon for a free certificate course from The Association’s Learning Center:

  • Dallas Animal Services, TX
  • Norfolk Animal Care & Adoption Center, VA
  • Spokane Humane Society, WA
  • Humane Society of South Mississippi, MS
  • Espanola Valley Humane Society, NM

If your organization is listed here as a winner and you have not heard from The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement, please email kcunningham@theaawa.org.