BURRILLVILLE – She was a lover of animals and a beloved television icon, who died on the last day of 2021.
Donations to pet shelters across the U.S. and beyond have skyrocketed in honor of the late actress Betty White’s birthday this month, and Burrillville Animal Control is no exception.
Burrillville Animal Control Officer Kerry Courtemanche said the shelter had received $3,687 as of Wednesday, Jan. 19 through the #BettyWhiteChallenge.
Courtemanche said several people have also told her that they have mailed donations, or will be making donations via PayPal or in person by the end of the month.
“I was completely taken by surprise by the amount of donations that have come in,” said Courtemanche. “We expected we would get some, but I didn’t dream we would get this amount.”
White, who would have turned 100 on January 17, was an animal activist, and a volunteer and board member of American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization and largest animal welfare group in the world. Often referred to as “the First Lady of Television,” the American actress and comedian’s epic career included leading roles on some of the most popular sitcoms in history, from The Mary Tyler Moore Show to The Golden Girls.
Fans of the actress, whose career spanned seven decades, launched, “The Betty White Challenge,” on social media, encouraging donations to animal shelters in honor of the late star. The movement went international, and web traffic and donations supporting American Humane have reportedly quadrupled in recent weeks.
“Betty White was an amazing actress and animal supporter who was clearly much beloved,” said Courtemanche. “We are thrilled that so many thought that donating in her memory to shelters and rescues across the country was a worthy cause.”
Courtemanche said individual contributions varied, ranging from $5 to $100, with all money received to be used sole for veterinary care and medical supplies.
On Tuesday, Jan. 18, The Taco Shop in Harrisville honored White by featuring their “Classic Betty” tostada, with corn salsa, goat cheese, cabbage, pickled red onions, sour cream, cheddar cheese and black beans. A portion of the days sales were donated to the shelter, with the restaurant delivering a contribution of $300.
“Burrillville is just the best little community, and we are lucky to have such great support,” Courtemanche said. “These funds will be a great help and will be used to provide necessary veterinary care to incoming animals so they can be placed in new homes.”
The ACO said she hopes other local shelters and rescues received significant donations as well.
“We all work toward a common goal, bettering the lives of animals that find themselves temporarily homeless,” Courtemanche said. “The Betty White Challenge was a great way to honor and memorialize the life of a very fine woman.”
“We think she would be pleased with the nationwide success of the #BettyWhiteChallenge,” she added. “To all that participated – thank you for being a friend.”
The shelter will continue accepting donations in White’s name. Contributions can be made in person at the facility on Clear River Drive or mailed Town Hall, 105 Harrisville Main St, Harrisville RI 02830. Donations can also be made via PayPal on the Animal Control page of the town website here.