$150,000 in grant money awarded to animal welfare organizations

June 23, 2021

Sharon Fletcher, Director of Marketing & Communications

Ten national animal welfare organizations came together this year to encourage the development and expansion of Return to Home programs, which help reunite lost pets with their loving families. Lost pets often go missing close to where they live, so the groups embarked on a challenge to bring the animals home, often before they ever entered their shelters.

The No Place Like Home Challenge, the first of its kind, helped 10,366 pets across 44 states find their way home during the month of March, with 275 animal welfare organizations starting or expanding Return to Home programs. The Challenge was co-funded by Michelson Found Animals Foundation and Maddie’s Fund®, 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 Love.

"We are excited to see organizations from a majority of the country participate in this Challenge," said Mary Ippoliti-Smith, Maddie’s Fund Executive Leadership Team. "The creativity in developing or expanding programs that put people and pets front and center is nothing short of remarkable."

Animal shelter and rescue organizations ran free microchipping clinics, made Return to Home resources a focal point of their website, shared methods and tools for neighbors and community members to help each other return pets to their families, and animal service officers made efforts to return the pets to their homes before taking them to the shelter. At the end of the Challenge, 9,867 dogs and 499 cats were reunited.

"With Fourth of July just around the corner, the timing of this Challenge could not have been better. More pets get lost during this holiday than any other,” said Brett Yates, Chief Executive Officer for Michelson Found Animals Foundation. "Participating organizations rose to the challenge and demonstrated through inventive programs, their readiness to help their communities this year and every year in the future, reunite lost pets with their people.”

Return to Home programs encompass a variety of tactics, depending on the needs of the community. From inspiring increased community involvement, changing laws and regulations for more favorable outcomes, utilizing marketing communications techniques and technology, to making sure every animal in the community has identification, to name a few.

Grant prizes were awarded for the best overall programs, most successful use of common return to home practices, exceptional initiatives and a random drawing.

Additional awards were given by collaborating partners Adoptimize and The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement.

Please join us in congratulating the following animal welfare organizations and their communities who won grant prizes from Michelson Found Animals Foundation and Maddie’s Fund for their outstanding programs:

Best Overall Effort/Robust Programs - $5,000 each

Animal Care & Control Team of Philadelphia, PA
Cabot Animal Support Services, AR
Department of Animal Services El Paso, TX
Lifeline Animal Project, GA
Maui Humane Society, HI

Category Program Awards - $3,000 each

City of Charlotte, NC
Haywood County Animal Shelter, NC
Oahu Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, HI
Tehama County Animal Services, CA
Washoe County Regional Animal Services, NV

Animal Rescue League of Iowa, IA
Harris County Shelter, TX
Jacksonville Animal Care & Protective Services, FL
Jacksonville Humane Society, FL Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter, AL

Culture of Return to Home:
Animal Shelter Action Society, Inc., KY
Bainbridge Decatur County Humane Society, GA
Peoria County Animal Protection Services, IL
Salt Lake County Animal Services, UT
Santa Barbara County Animal Services, CA

Community Centered:
Animal Rez-Q, Inc., AZ
Laredo Animal Protective Society, TX
Marin Humane Society, CA
Oconee County Animal Shelter, GA
Pet Adoption League of Gem County, ID

Castle of Dreams Animal Rescue, NJ
Contra Costa County Animal Services, CA
Joplin Humane Society, Inc, MO
Montgomery County Animal Care and Adoption Center, VA
Portsmouth Humane Society, VA

Conway Humane Society, NH
Madera County Animal Services, CA
Rockingham/Harrisonburg SPCA, VA
Sand Springs Animal Welfare, OK
Ulster County SPCA, NY

Return In Field:
Brandywine Valley SPCA, PA
Franklin County Dog Shelter and Adoption Center, OH
Oakland Animal Services, CA
Santa Rosa County Animal Services, FL
St. Tammany Parish Dept. of Animal Services, LA

Bravo Awards - $2,000 each

Next-Level Microchip Clinic: Animal Shelter of Sullivan County, TN
Partnerships with Local Businesses: Best Friends for Life, TX
Interdepartmental Cross-Training: Cherokee County Animal Shelter, GA
Fastest Return: Harker Heights Pet Adoption Center, TX
Incorporating Return to Home into their Mission: Its Meow or Never for Ferals, FL

Random Drawing - $1,000 each

Abandoned Animal Rescue (AAR), TX
AZ Center for Animal Rescue and Education, AZ
City of Cleveland Animal Care & Control, OH
Fairfield County Dog Adoption Center & Shelter, OH
Humane Society of Valdosta/Lowndes County, GA
Humane Society of Cowlitz County, S.P.C.A, WA
Kansas City Pet Project, MO
Kershaw County Humane Society, SC
Seattle Animal Shelter, WA
Yavapai Humane Society, AZ

Return to Home resources can be found on Michelson Found Animals Foundation’s and Maddie’s Fund’s websites.


About Michelson Found Animals Foundation

Michelson Found Animals Foundation, a division of Michelson Philanthropies, is a leading animal welfare nonprofit that believes people and pets are better together. Generously funded by Dr. Gary Michelson and Alya Michelson, Found Animals operates a range of catalytic grants, impact investments, operating programs, and education and advocacy initiatives that share a common goal: to champion pets at every point they intersect with our society. Found Animals has helped more than 7 million pets since it was founded in 2005. Learn more at foundanimals.org and michelsonphilanthropies.org.

About Maddie's Fund

Maddie's Fund® is a family foundation established in 1994 by Dave and Cheryl Duffield and is the fulfillment of a promise to their inspirational dog, Maddie. She provided them much joy from 1987 – 1997 and continues to inspire them today.

The Foundation has awarded over $275.7 million in grants toward increased community lifesaving, pioneering shelter medicine education and establishing foster care as a standard across the U.S.

Maddie's Fund proudly offers the industry a national voice, important funding opportunities for bold ideas, learning resources and access to collaborate and share innovative solutions. The Foundation invests its resources in a commitment to keeping pets and people together, creating a safety net of care for animals in need and operating within a culture of inclusiveness and humility. #ThanksToMaddie.