The 2023 Open Arms Challenge was all about opening hearts and minds to more accessible and inclusive practices. The Challenge was funded by Adopt a Pet, California for All Animals, Maddie’s Fund®, Michelson Found Animals Foundation and Ryan Animal Rescue Foundation and in collaboration with Adoptimize, American Pets Alive!, ASPCA, The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement, Best Friends Animal Society, BISSELL Pet Foundation, The Community Cats Podcast, Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity (CARE), Cuddly, Greater Good Charities, HeARTS Speak, Humane Society of the United States, Maddie's® Million Pet Challenge, National Animal Care and Control Association, Petco Love, Petfinder Foundation, PetSmart Charities and Shelter Animals Count.

The Open Arms Challenge 2023 was the most popular Challenge to date, with 382 organizations expanding their programs and services and welcoming more community members in April 2023. Together, the participating organizations found homes for 40,221 animals and offered support to help keep 299,252 animals in their homes!

Please help us congratulate the winners! Adopt a Pet, Maddie’s Fund, Michelson Found Animals Foundation and Ryan Animal Rescue Foundation awarded prizes for Grand Prize, Best Overall Effort, Uses of Practices, plus 9 Random Winners as follows:

Grand Prize ($10,000)

  • Companion Animal Alliance, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Harris County Pets, Houston, TX

Overall Effort ($5,000)

  • Animal Birth Control Clinic, Waco, TX
  • City of Cabot, Cabot, AR
  • City of Great Falls, Great Falls, MT
  • Community Humane Shelter of Steuben County, Angola, IN
  • First Nations Veterinary, Portland, OR
  • Fosters & Paws, Sacramento, CA
  • Happy Tails Rescue, Fridley, MN
  • Hood River Adopt a Dog, Hood River, OR
  • Houston Humane Society, Houston, TX
  • Humane Rescue Alliance, Washington, DC
  • Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, Kansas City, KS
  • The Humane Society of Hobart, Hobart, IN
  • YOUR Humane Society SPCA, Lake Panasoffkee, FL

Most Effective Use of Open and Welcoming Practices ($3,000)

Processes are equitable and inclusive

  • Dekalb Humane Society, Auburn, IN
  • Heber Valley Animal Services, Heber City, UT
  • High Desert Animal Coalition, Oak Hills, CA
  • Lifeline Oro Valley Animal Rescue, Oro Valley, AZ
  • NovaStar Rescue, Dover, AR
  • Saving Grace Pet Adoption Center, Roseburg, OR
  • Worcester County Humane Society, Berlin, MD
  • Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter, Billings, MT

Customer success is ensured through customer service

  • Burlington Animal Services, Burlington, NC
  • City of Saginaw Animal Services, Saginaw, TX
  • Community Animal Medicine Project, San Pedro, CA
  • Hawaiian Humane Society, Honolulu, HI
  • My Pitbull is Family, Minneapolis, MN
  • Santa Rosa County Animal Services, Milton, FL
  • Spay Neuter Network, Crandall, TX

Marketing is inclusive of all areas of your community

  • Albuquerque Kennel Kompadres, Albuquerque, NM
  • Atlanta Humane Society, Atlanta, GA
  • Fix West Texas, Midland, TX
  • Housing Equality & Advocacy Resource Team, Los Angeles, CA
  • J&Co Dog Rescue, Franklinville, NJ
  • Leave No Paws Behind Inc, West Covina, CA
  • Ohlone Humane Society, Fremont, CA

Organization embraces an open and welcoming culture

  • Animal Welfare League of Arlington, Arlington, VA
  • Chesapeake Humane Society, Chesapeake, VA
  • Homeward Pet Adoption Center, Woodinville, WA
  • Humane Society of Scott County, Davenport, IA
  • Kitsap Humane Society, Silverdale, WA
  • Olympic Peninsula Humane, Port Angeles, WA
  • Williamson County Animal Center, Franklin, TN

Organization creates partnerships with other organizations

  • Beautiful Together, Chapel Hill, NC
  • Circle Area Humane Society, Circleville, OH
  • Dutchess County SPCA, Hyde Park, NY
  • Humane Society of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN
  • Leadville Lake County Animal Shelter, Leadville, CO
  • Oconee Regional Humane Society, Greensboro, GA
  • Tri-County Humane Society, Saint Cloud, MN
  • Until They're Home, Fort Collins, CO

Other (another welcoming practice not listed above)

  • Dodge County Humane Society, Juneau, WI
  • Halo K9 Behavior, Xenia, OH
  • The Animal Protective Association of Missouri, Brentwood, MO
  • The Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County, Tacoma, WA
  • The Pretty Pittie Committee, Semmes, AL

Randomly Selected Winners ($1,000)

  • Buster’s Paw Prints, Red Bluff, CA
  • Dogtree Pines Senior Dog Sanctuary, Prescott, AZ
  • Greene County Animal Control, Xenia, OH
  • Its Meow or Never for Ferals, Havana, FL
  • Maricopa County, Phoenix, AZ
  • Nashville Humane, Nashville, TN
  • Positive Tails, Brooklyn, NY
  • Purrfect Cat Rescue, Crystal Lake, IL
  • SPCA of Florida, Lakeland, FL

California for All Animals awarded prizes for Game Changer, Bridge Builders, Barrier Busters, Arms Wide Open and Pets and People.

Game Changer ($25,000)

  • Nine Lives Foundation, Redwood City, CA

Bridge Builders ($10,000)

  • City of Sacramento Front Street Animal Shelter, Sacramento, CA
  • City of Perris Animal Control, Perris, CA
  • Humane Society of Sonoma County, Santa Rosa, CA
  • Madera County Animal Services, Madera, CA
  • Riverside County Department of Animal Services, Jurupa Valley, CA
  • Town of Truckee Animal Services, Truckee, CA

Barrier Busters ($7,000)

  • Contra Costa Humane Society, Pleasant Hill, CA
  • Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, Palm Springs, CA
  • Jameson Rescue Ranch (DBA Jameson Humane), Napa, CA
  • Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats, Los Angeles, CA
  • Sacramento SPCA, Sacramento, CA
  • San Mateo County Health, San Mateo, CA
  • Stray Cat Alliance, Los Angeles, CA
  • Town Cats of Morgan Hill, Morgan Hill, CA
  • Wags Pet Adoption/Westminster Adoption GRP Service, Westminster, CA

Arms Wide Open ($5,000)

  • East Bay SPCA, Oakland, CA
  • Hayward Animal Services Bureau, Hayward, CA
  • Kern County Animal Services, Bakerfield, CA
  • Kings County Animal Services, Hanford, CA
  • Newman Animal Services, Newman, CA
  • Ridgecrest Animal Shelter, Ridgecrest, CA
  • San Diego Humane Society, San Diego, CA
  • Valley Animal Haven, Lemoore, CA

Pets and People ($3,000)

  • Animal Friends of the Valleys, Wildomar, CA
  • Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode, Diamond Springs, CA
  • Animal Shelter Assistance Program, Goleta, CA
  • FieldHaven Feline Center, Lincoln, CA

The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement

The following organizations received a coupon for one (each) free certificate course (Organizational Leadership or Fundraising) from The Learning Center:

  • Fix West Texas, Midland, TX
  • Greater Huntsville Humane Society, Huntsville, AL
  • New Beginnings SPCA, Roseburg, OR
  • Northeast Missouri Humane Society, Hannibal, MO
  • York County Animal Control, York, SC

BISSELL Pet Foundation

The following organizations received $1,000 in spay-neuter vouchers (each voucher covers $50 per dog and $25 per cat):

  • City of Cabot, Cabot, AR
  • Erie County SPCA, West Seneca, NY
  • Forsyth Humane Society, Winston-Salem, NC

The Community Cats Podcast

All organizations who submitted a participation report will receive recordings of the 2023 Online Cat Conference.


The following organization received an in-kind grant of animal products to support community outreach efforts, with a $1000 value total, including pet food and treats, crates, toys, leashes, collars, and enrichment items:

  • Fix West Texas, Midland, TX

The following organization received a $1000 grant to be spent on new processes and programs to support this challenge:

  • Buster’s Paw Prints, Red Bluff, CA

Greater Good

All qualified participating shelters and rescues free enrollment in our Jackson Galaxy Project Cat Pawsitive behavior training program.

The following organization received up to $2,000 in scholarships to attend a special Greater Good Charities event:

  • Happy Tails Rescue, Fridley, MN

National Animal Care and Control Association

  • City of Saginaw Animal Services, Saginaw, TX: Feature story in Upcoming NACA Animal Care and Control News Magazine, 1-year Agency Membership + Scholarship Funds for Online ACO Certification
  • Kern County Animal Services, Bakersfield, CA: Feature story in Upcoming NACA Animal Care and Control News Magazine, 1-year Agency Membership
  • Perris Animal Control, Perris, CA: Feature story in Upcoming NACA Animal Care and Control News Magazine, 1-year Agency Membership

Challenge Partners

Adopt a Pet
California for All Animals
Maddie's Fund
Michelson Found Animals
Ryan Animal Rescue Foundation
The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement
Best Friends Animal Society
BISSELL Pet Foundation
Community Cats Podcast
Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity (CARE)
Greater Good Charities
Humane Society of the United States
Maddie's Million Pet Challenge
National Animal Care and Control Association
Petco Love
Petfinder Foundation
Petsmart Charities
Shelter Animals Count