Annise Parker took to her mayoral podium with Mindy the dog to kick off one of the most competitive events this Olympics season — the ASPCA Rachael Ray Challenge to arrange 2,100 pet adoptions by the end of October for a $100,000 grand prize grant.
After years of struggle and controversy, BARC soared through April's voter-based qualifying heat to be one of only 50 adoption centers in the nation to chase that sweet ASPCA cash.
“BARC is taking its effort to save Houston’s homeless animals to a whole new level," said Parker. "There is no reason Houston shouldn’t win this competition.”
On Saturday from noon to 6 p.m., the Houston animal shelter will host a special Adoption Olympics event to offer a day of festivities that includes contests, door prizes and more than 400 "gold medal-worthy" cats and dogs available at reduced fees.
Be sure not to miss what sounds like the highlight of the weekend — the 1 p.m. opening ceremonies, parade of "athletes" and torch-lighting ceremony.
“BARC has taken incredible strides since its 2009 transformation. I am so proud of the staff and volunteers who have built it into what it is today,” Parker said in a statement. “BARC is taking its effort to save Houston’s homeless animals to a whole new level. There is no reason Houston shouldn’t win this competition.”
Representatives for BARC explained that if the organization wins the Rachael Ray challenge, it will dedicate the grant to securing a mobile adoption vehicle to better orchestrate the organization's weekend adoption events, all of which are currently limited to indoor climate-controlled sites within the 610 loop.
“We are excited that BARC is at a point where it can compete in a competition of this magnitude,” said Alfred Moran, director of the the city's regulatory affairs office, which oversees the animal agency. “Now we have staff and volunteers that work hard to improve BARC every single day and a community that stands firmly behind us. I have no doubt that we can win this.”
"This is Houston’s chance to prove that we can be the live-saving capital of the nation," exclaimed Parker.
The Adoption Olympics will be held at BARC's headquarters at 3200 Carr Street. At the event, dogs can be adopted for $20 and cats for $10. Throughout the competition, which ends Oct. 31, regular adoption fees will be cut in half, with dogs available for $37.50 and cats for $15.