YORK, Pa. — The late actress and comedian Betty White died on New Year’s Eve at the age of 99. On Jan. 17—the day she would have turned 100—fans said “happy birthday” by donating to animal welfare, her favorite cause.
Fans caused the hashtag #BettyWhiteChallenge to go viral on several social media platforms, spurring thousands of donations to animal shelters across the country, including in south central Pennsylvania.
The York County SPCA was one of the shelters to participate in the challenge.
“Betty White is this national icon," said York County SPCA Executive Director Steven Martinez. "The Betty White Challenge is encouraging people to give locally and to think about the impact that their local giving has.”
The York County SPCA received $6,000 in donations on Monday.
“It has totally blown our expectations on how much money we have raised from this Betty White Challenge,” said Martinez.
The social media challenge comes at a time when many shelters are facing difficulties getting their animals adopted.
“Our adoptions have been slow during this pandemic, but our biggest challenges during this pandemic are getting the volunteers,” said Cheryl Walker, the president of Helen O. Krause Animal Foundation in Dillsburg.
However, no shelters contacted by FOX43 reported more people returning animals they had adopted during the pandemic. Martinez said that belief was a misconception, and that the York County SPCA had an animal return rate of 3% both before and after the pandemic began.
Shelter staff hope the #BettyWhiteChallenge also raised more awareness about the importance of adopting shelter animals.
“A continuous challenge that we’ll always probably face is promoting the value of adoptions," Martinez said. "...There is a right animal for anybody here at this shelter."