The dog days of summer are upon us, and officials at one Pinellas County animal shelter are hoping residents will consider adding a canine or feline to the family.
The Humane Society of Pinellas is competing in the 2013 ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge.
The goal is to complete 999 adoptions in 90 days this summer — during June, July and August.
Dubbed the Pick Me! Project, the challenge is a national competition to encourage animal shelters to reunite lost pets with their owners, increase pet adoptions and save more animals' lives.
Want to help the local shelter? There are a host of options:
• "Like" it on Facebook.
• Sign up for the shelter newsletter.
• Host an adoption event (local businesses).
• Tell your friends about the Pick Me! Project.
As part of the project, ASPCA is handing out $600,000 in grants to 50 shelters competing nationwide in five divisions.
Winning shelters in each division win a $100,000 grant. There are other grants that competing shelters could earn that range between $5,000 and $25,000.
Pinellas is one of 10 shelters in Division 1, which is based on the number of animals an agency takes in annually. So Pinellas will compete against agencies that take in between 1,500 and 2,500 animals.
As of Wednesday afternoon, they were well on their way with 337 adoptions.
Last month the Humane Society of Pinellas hosted a successful Free Fur All Weekend, when 41 dogs and 39 cats were adopted, officials say.
Just in case you're wondering, yes, that's a record, with more than 800 customers visiting the shelter.
But that event was just a prelude for a much larger effort.
Next month, the shelter is planning a new event called Pet Expo of Pinellas. The indoor, family event will feature more than 50 vendors at Minnreg Hall in Largo.
Similar events have been held in Tampa, but this will be the first time such an event will be offered in Pinellas County, said Twila Cole, spokeswoman for the Humane Society, who's been working on the expo for more than a year.
"I'm just really excited to offer this type of event on this side of the bay for the Tampa Bay area," said Cole.
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Meanwhile in the Sunshine City, Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill, 1320 Central Ave., will host the third annual Party for the Paws.
The tropical "luau" will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. July 20.
The pet-friendly event will benefit the shelter and emergency medical fund at Pet Pal Animal Shelter, 405 22nd St. S.
Sandra J. Gadsden can be reached at email@example.com or at (727) 893-8874 and on Twitter @StPeteSandi.