Sonoma County animal shelters encourage donations honoring Betty White

Legendary animal advocate Betty White, who died recently just short of her 100th birthday, has inspired a challenge to help support animals around the world.

The now-viral Betty White Challenge asks animal lovers to donate $5 to an animal welfare center of their choosing on White’s birthday, Jan. 17.

To support the challenge and after some expressed interest in it, some local shelters are making it easy for pet lovers to donate in the name of America’s sweetheart.

“Over the past week HSSC has started to receive donations in her name, as well as messages from supporters looking to take part in honoring Betty’s animal-loving, philanthropic spirit,” read a post on the Facebook page of Humane Society of Sonoma County in Santa Rosa, which mainly serves Sebastopol.

Those wanting to take part can donate online at

“I didn’t know about Betty White until the Betty White Challenge,” said Kelly Olsen, marketing and communications coordinator for the humane society. “I was very happy to see all these awesome pictures of her posing with all kinds of dogs, and she helped zoos. It’s really exciting that this is happening.”

Olsen said people have also been dropping off cash at the humane society’s office to honor the late actress, who charmed audiences on “The Golden Girls” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” as well as numerous other TV appearances and films in a career spanning eight decades.

“(White) was a super-special person. At a meeting today her name came up as someone who has put in the good fight for animals. And they’re all different animals — she’s not just a cat or a dog lover,” North Bay Animal Services Executive Director Mark Scott said. “Her favorite quote was, ‘this is how fur should be touched,’ when she has a dog in her lap.”

North Bay Animal Services, with its main office in Petaluma and a satellite office in Windsor, also serves Cloverdale, Healdsburg and Calistoga.

Scott encouraged people to name Betty White when making a donation on North Bay Animal Services’ website or to put “in honor of Betty White” on a check. Visit to see all the ways to donate.

Scott said the shelter is planning “something special” on Monday. “We’ll dress up cats in dresses to acknowledge her effort,” he said. “It will be cute. It will be fun!”

White was known for her devotion to animals along with her poignant and funny quotes about them. She said she used her show business career to pay for her animal business.

“Animals don't lie,” White would often say. “Animals don't criticize. If animals have moody days, they handle them better than humans do.”

You can reach Staff Writer Kathleen Coates at or 707-521-5209.

Kathleen Coates

Windsor and Cloverdale, The Press Democrat 

As someone who grew up in a small town, I enjoy covering what's happening in Windsor and Cloverdale, which are growing in their own unique ways.  I delve into issues by getting to know people and finding out what’s going on in the community. I also pay attention to animal welfare and other issues that affect Sonoma County.

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