Columbia animal shelter celebrates No. 1 rank in Zootoo makeover contest

Friday, March 13, 2009 | 6:45 p.m. CDT; updated 7:39 p.m. CDT, Thursday, March 19, 2009
Thirteen-year-olds Libby Burks, left, and Amanda Huhman hold Human Society dogs Lola and Lilly at the Central Missouri Humane Society's Zootoo celebration on Friday. Libby and Amanda discovered the Zootoo Web site in January and entered to win a Shelter Makeover for the Humane Society. Starting from 859th place with 9 members and 50 points, they sent chain letters, posted media and promoted the cause at school to improve their standings. Today there are 9,000 members involved, and the girls have generated more than 1 million points, enough to advance the Central Missouri Humane Society to the next phase of the Shelter Makeover competition.

COLUMBIA — Wieners roasting on the grill. Kids throwing a football. Radio tunes blasting from a KTXY/106.9 FM truck. Dogs and puppies roaming everywhere.

The scene at the Central Missouri Humane Society on Big Bear Boulevard on Friday afternoon had all the trappings of a perfect party — and for good reason. Hundreds celebrated Blue for Zootoo Friday and the society’s No. 1 ranking in the national race for points in’s Shelter Makeover II contest.


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The shelter entered the contest in January ranked 859th. But in the frenetic weeks since, it has steadily risen through the ranks to grab the top spot. If it keeps the first-place ranking until 10:59 tonight, the end of the points phase of the competition, it will win a $10,000 prize and a chance at a $1 million shelter makeover. With more than 1 million points so far, the shelter is more than 200,000 points ahead of the second-ranked competitor.

Halley Taylor, the shelter's relations assistant, passed out blue and orange balloons to children at the celebration, with Delilah, a golden retriever, and Small Fry, a corgi-dachshund mix, alongside. Taylor brought different dogs out of the shelter at the top of each hour to meet the partyers.

Taylor shared the sense of excitement at the event.

“The community’s come out and said this shelter matters to them,” she said.

Taylor said that the Humane Society’s board will decide how to spend the $10,000 if it wins, but she predicted it will go toward the shelter’s immediate needs.

It was Libby Burks and Amanda Huhman, two seventh-graders at Columbia Catholic School, who got the ball rolling on the contest.

“We started with 250 points and nine members. Now, we have over 9,000 members and 1 million points,” said Libby, who was all decked out in blue for the celebration. “We got really far with the community’s support, and we’d like to say thank you to all.”

With large blue sunglasses, Amanda shared Libby’s enthusiasm.

“It’s really exciting that we’ve gotten this far,” Amanda said. Both girls’ parents were at the celebration supporting them.

Chuck Huhman, Amanda’s father, worked the grill for a good chunk of the day.

“We have plenty of hot dogs,” he said as he gave them another turn. “It’s good to see the community’s all together to get behind what the girls started. … It’s all for the 1 million bucks.”

Liz Burks, Libby’s mother, described her reaction to the girls’ work as “total amazement … considering what’s been accomplished in such a short amount of time.”

She recalled that Jan. 15 was the first time Libby logged on to

Widget Ewing, the girls’ social studies teacher, showed up to offer her support as well.

“If they could get this, they could reach out to other humane societies,” she said of the shelter.

Ewing remembers the girls showing her how to get onto to help earn points for the shelter. Members can do so by posting journal entries, pictures, reviews of pet products and videos, or by inviting friends to join the site.

Patty Forister, executive director at the shelter, said she is proud of the community’s support.

“It’s a dream come true so far,” she said. “I hope the best for them (the other shelters), but I think Columbia’s made its choice.”

Forister said the shelter has averaged around 50,000 to 80,000 points a day. She’s confident it will finish at No. 1.

The Friday affair included computer stations where people could get help earning points, a face painting table, a large poster board for signatures, a table full of free pet goodies from Petco and a pet boutique table with merchandise from the society and There also was a ring made of hay bales where the society showed off puppies needing adoption.

In the second phase of the shelter makeover contest, representatives of will visit the top 20 shelters on Thursday. Amanda, Libby and Humane Society board members plan to arrive at the shelter in style to greet them, first riding a trolley, donated by White Knight Transportation, down Broadway between U.S. 63 and Providence Road, then heading north to the shelter.

After visiting the top 20 shelters to meet with staff, talk with supporters and examine the condition of the shelter, will narrow its list of contenders to 10. That list will be announced April 7 at the Humane Society of the United States Animal Care Expo in Las Vegas.

“Whether we win or lose, it’s fantastic to know so many people are on our side,” Forister said.

The final phase of the contest will be April 7 through 24, when Americans will be able to vote for the shelter of their choice up to 10 times a day if they have a account and a profile picture. 

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Charles Dudley Jr March 14, 2009 | 3:20 p.m.

I really hope when that contest inspection comes that all of those volunteers have that place smelling cleaner that a hospital operating room instead of "the funk" I smelled the day I toured that facility not long ago.

At least then it actually will give the appearance of they are trying to clean daily.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 14, 2009 | 3:51 p.m.

Maybe you should hustle yourself down there if you are that concerned about the funk? Maybe call George Clinton and see if he will help out?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 14, 2009 | 4:20 p.m.

John Schultz Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Boone County.

It is not my job to have to go down to the facility when they have over 30 payed employees and access to multitudes of community volunteers at their beck and call.

If they cannot get the job done with that large number of people to eliminate all of "that funk" then how do you think it will look when one citizen with disabilities goes into that facility and can get the job done with only 3 other people.

It would make people rather hurt,angry,upset and look very bad for that to happen. Now as a concerned enough citizen to be posting this here as I do it alerts other citizens of like mind to the issue and then they can go see for themselves the situation and smell "that funk" themselves and make up their own minds.

People who have worked around animals cleaning alot of their lives know exactly what I am talking about when I present the facts that you should not smell "that funk" if the facility has been properly cleaned.

Now if you are so concerned about this to be posting up here John Schultz why don't you grab your military buddies and go help them yourselves as I am sure that while in boot camp your Drill Instructors taught you how to clean properly didn't they?

Maybe you can give all of those there at CMHS some good ole military cleaning tips. After all the military is the top expert on everything last I heard. Get to it soldier!

That is if all of you are not too busy feeding your faces at CC Broiler.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 14, 2009 | 5:39 p.m.

Hey Chuckles! I wasn't in the military, I just help out at because I feel it's a good cause.

Another Libertarian I know once said he was tired of people being whiners and delegators instead of doers. When you sit at your computer in Paquin Tower and whine about "the funk", how else should those people who work and volunteer at CMHS feel about your diatribes? Maybe they feel "rather hurt,angry,upset and look very bad" because grumpy Chuck is disparaging their work, and not even showing them how he could do it better.

Why should the CMHS board listen to your and Ray's idea about the Sinclair property when you are on here dissing the staff instead of busting your hump to rid "the funk?" Thank God I'm not involved in any organizations or commissions that you attend.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 14, 2009 | 7:11 p.m.

John Schultz Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Boone County.

Once again CMHS has over 30 employees and access to how many community volunteers from this surrounding area? Do the math. They can get free or nearly free chemicals and equipment to clean with.

Stop trying to prop them up. That is why they are at the point they are at now is because concerned citizens of this community have kept ignoring the issue!

With that many individual people one would think that cleaning a facility as small as that is would be quite easy. Common sense presents us that in simple logistics if you are able to think outside of the box.

I used to clean that facility myself with only three other cleaning people daily.

Don't feed us B.S. John Schultz Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Boone County.

You can diss me all you want for being an online advocate for change but what better way do you know to get the message out to the masses to go look for themselves and to come back here or elsewhere and prove my presentations wrong.

The facts are my presentations on the cleanliness of the facility are quite correct as even somebody on the FreeTalkColumbia Yahoo! Group agrees as well and they agree with the need for a larger facility with better management. I have also received other emails telling me I am correct in my presentations on this issue.

Some people in this community choose not to turn a blind eye on their furry four legged friends.

CMHS has been asking for ideas for a larger facility for umpteen years now and Ray Shapiro and myself just presented them and everyone else in this community an idea to look at.

Whether they can pull it all off or they drop the ball is up to them. At least Ray Shapiro and myself presented the idea. Which is quite alot more than I have seen anybody else do online or in the local media in this entire surrounding community.

We presented a very viable idea and we even got the ball rolling by going and trying to personally contact people in person to hopefully get them together to begin building those needed community bridges.

What John are you jealous of our efforts or something.

I sure do not hear of you doing much besides complaining about what Ray Shapiro and I do as of late.

If this entire surrounding community would actually learn to maximize it's over all resources there would be no need of advocates such as myself pointing out the obvious now would there?

Until this entire surrounding community puts aide it's good ole boy mentality of "oh but that is the way we have always done it" and gets with the program they present to the public of being totally progressive I will continue to push for changes as I can in any way I can that helps alert others to genuine concerns.

That is what being a citizen advocate is all about and your personal opinions of what I do online do not mean piss in a puddle Mr. Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Boone County.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 14, 2009 | 7:17 p.m.

Also to note on this a lady several times now has offered 50 acres of her own property near the present facility to them several times over the past years to no avail.

She has posted several times on the FreeTalkColumbia Group on Yahoo!

Wow 50 acres to build a new facility on.

What do they want or expect somebody to do all of the foot work for them and just hand them everything?

Sounds like they need a Board of Director who know what the word "direction" means.

Prove me wrong as this is the "Show Me!" state after all.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 14, 2009 | 7:56 p.m.

Chuck, go read my comment about whiners and delegators vs. doers and let me know which bucket you think you fall in regarding this issue.

Go down to CMHS and see if you can clean "the funk" better than it is now. You and Ray took a little tour recently, then hopped online and griped about "the funk." Why not fix the problem while you were there, or pass on some knowledge on how to do that? Maybe there are facility issues that prevent it from smelling clean as an Irish morning? Maybe you can show the staff and volunteers a better way to clean than they are now? But no, you'll keep griping online that they are not doing the job you allegedly did.

Kudos to you and Ray for finding a building that *may* work for an expanded CMHS facility. But CMHS has to do due diligence on the building and what it would cost to switchover, they can't just go willy-nilly into such an obligation. I reckon that is also why they are not taking this lady up on her 50 acres. Where do you propose they will find the money to build a new facility on that property? And please answer specifically, not your new catchphrase about maximizing resources - spell it out.

I'm not jealous of a single darn thing you do Chuck, and I do not "diss" you for "being an online advocate for change" whatever that might be in your mind. But I will call you on the carpet when I think you post something that needs to be challenged, such as your original slam on the staff and volunteers. If you don't like "the funk" then get down there and do something about it, instead of spreading your funk online.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro March 14, 2009 | 10:21 p.m.

Hey John:
When was the last time you took a risk and posted one original idea?
You seem to enjoy personal attacks on Chuck and telling one individual what and how that one individual should be conducting their life beyond their postings/reporting?
Chuck and I are not accountable to you.
(We are not card carrying Libertarians or part of your crowd.)
We choose to not only "make noise" but just as you, we selectively involve ourselves in front-line voluntarism and get our hands in the mix, as much as we can physically and time allows.
We try to utilize our strenghts and preferences, just like any one else.
Keep making a fool of yourself by discounting our efforts. We appreciate it.
Love you man,
Ray Shapiro

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 14, 2009 | 10:48 p.m.

No Ray, I don't enjoy attacking Chuck. I choose to point out when he (and just about anybody really) makes a comment that is not rational or cannot be defended by logic. If you don't like that, you are free to scroll by my postings, just like Chuck urges people he can't out-logic.

Keep on keeping on with your odd posts, Ray. And no, don't ask me to buy you any coffee.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 15, 2009 | 3:23 a.m.

Re: the Sinclair property:

Having a facility that is too big is just as bad, or worse, that having one that is not large enough. Even if all animal related services in the county were to move into buildings on that property (there are about 30, of which about half of them are animal quarters of some sort), they'd have a lot of unused space, which still has to be maintained by someone.

CMHS is having trouble getting the funds and people to maintain it's current facility. They'll have to look long and hard at a big expansion like Sinclair (that is assuming the property is realistically available). Perhaps things will be better served by leaving the decision up to CMHS (and other shelters like SC) and seeing what happens.


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 15, 2009 | 4:04 a.m.

John Schultz Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Boone County.

Me thinketh you protesteth far to much to be productive in this entire issue.

Once again CMHS has over 30 employees and access to how many community volunteers from this surrounding area? Do the math. They can get free or nearly free chemicals and equipment to clean with.

Stop trying to prop them up. That is why they are at the point they are at now is because concerned citizens of this community have kept ignoring the issue!

With that many individual people one would think that cleaning a facility as small as that is would be quite easy.

Don't attack the messenger but attack the issue the messenger presents and make things happen in this so called progressive community.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 15, 2009 | 9:24 a.m.

Chuck, I will stop propping them up the instant you stop dragging them down. Deal?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 15, 2009 | 9:47 a.m.

John Schultz Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Boone County.

I do not have to drag them down nor do I but if you think so that is on you. They are doing that all by themselves and have been for a very very long time. Long before I ever moved to Columbia.

I am just pointing out the obvious since nobody in this community seems to have the guts to stand up and say as such.

Stay classy John.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 15, 2009 | 9:54 a.m.

Coming from someone who passed along a "Why I hate Libertarians" rant from a blogger he doesn't know, that last statement is pretty darn funny. Physician, heal thyself?

(Report Comment)
James Herring March 16, 2009 | 10:18 a.m.

It is amazing that an article about the Humane Society Shelter generates so much negative comments; and not even about the article! I would think that people would be interested in knowing how two teenage girls found a way to get money to that organization. Instead these last comments are a torrent against each other and organizations that weren't even mentioned in the article! You guys sure know how to set the example for the next generation. Anymore I just ignore any comments that I see from you guys.

>>>I am glad that I found out about what they were doing as I was one of the people that signed up and helped with the points as best I could. I sincerly hope that our shelter wins!

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 16, 2009 | 11:40 a.m.

James Herring that is because there are much bigger issues than you see posted about into the public eye. Lots choose to totally ignore those issues either out of not wanting to upset the boat or out of total the complacency that permeates this entire community at times.

There are some of us that are not afraid to speak up on issues that concern us unlike those who will just stay to their same good ole boy mentalities of "but that is the way we have always done it" which is what has gotten CMHS,other 501c3's and other groups into the conditions they are now in.

Think about it. Do not shoot the messengers but instead work towards solutions to fix the problems. Then you will not see the messengers having to post.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 16, 2009 | 12:24 p.m.

"Think about it. Do not shoot the messengers but instead work towards solutions to fix the problems. Then you will not see the messengers having to post."

So you're heading down to take care of "the funk" when?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 16, 2009 | 12:54 p.m.

Once again CMHS has over 30 employees and access to how many community volunteers from this surrounding area? But they cannot by what reason keep that shelter smelling clean?

Do tell us all here more excuses.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 16, 2009 | 1:11 p.m.

Why can't YOU go down there and show them how to clean in a manner that you say none of them can do sufficiently? Heck, how hard would it be to put the process in an email or a letter, assuming anyone from CMHS wants to hear from you now.

Maybe there has been a loss of institutional memory on what needs to be done when and with what cleaning agents. Maybe no one cares. Maybe people say it's good enough. Maybe they are using all of their time taking care of the higher pet load that was not present during your tenure.

But no, Chuck Dudley has decreed that no one can clean as well as he did and that's that, end of discussion.

(Report Comment)
Nicole Gerdemann March 16, 2009 | 3:51 p.m.

Kudos too Libby and Amanda on being forward thinkers and uniting Columbians and many from other areas to come together for the betterment of the Central Missouri Humane Society.

This should be a time for the positive, not the negative that has been spat out on this accomplishment. And yes, for two seventh graders to get this started and over 9,000 people to get invovled for something good, it is an accomplishment. let go of your negativity.

Again, way to go girls and way to go Columbians! Best of luck to CMHS in the next round!

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 16, 2009 | 4:04 p.m.

Once again CMHS has over 30 employees and access to how many community volunteers from this surrounding area? But they cannot by what reason keep that shelter smelling clean?

If 30 employees combined along with hundreds of available volunteers they have on theirs lists cannot clean daily one tiny facility such as that is what good will it do for one person to have to go there to teach them "how too clean".

You are trying to tell me 30 employees(adults no less of legal age and sound bodies and minds) do not know how to properly clean animal runs and their surrounding areas John Schultz Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Boone County.

Remember those are adult citizens that work and volunteer there.

Do tell us all here more excuses. Yawnz.

I do agree congrats to these two young girls!! They are doing what obviously all of the adults affiliated with CMHS have not been able to do in how many years now running?

Simply amazing so do not sell short the visions and dreams of these two young ladies!!!

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 16, 2009 | 4:20 p.m.

Chuck said:

"But they cannot by what reason keep that shelter smelling clean?"

Probably because it's really crowded. I keep hearing how they are so full - any facility that has too many animals in it will have odor problems. They can't clean ALL the time.

Another good reason why Libby and Amanda are doing a great thing.


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 16, 2009 | 4:56 p.m.

Mark Foecking it is not rocket science my friend. You do not even need your slide ruler nor your beakers to measure this out nor a microscope to see it but just follow this simple formula any beginning science student can follow.

If you do or do not have any empty cage runs the process is still the same and it is very simple. If you have empty runs outside you use those too for the larger breeds.

You need to have runs open so you can clean efficiently and move fast.

They have a ton of extra large dog crates at the facility.

You take the smaller dogs out of their respective runs and temporarily put them into those crates with all of their respective info tags. This is only for a short time maybe 3 hours if the staff hustles their tails off.

You then have open runs to clean with ease. You spray,scrub down and thoroughly clean,rinse said open runs plus the area of the trench they occupy.

Then you play the game of "doggy hop scotch" by moving your other dogs out of their dirty runs into the clean runs,move their respective info tagging too and you start the cleaning process all over again.

You do this until the entire top main kennel area has been thoroughly cleaned including all drainages and the three trenches have been washed,scrubbed and flushed. Then put your small dogs you had to put into crates back into their now clean runs.

Then and only then do you feed and water. After chow time you pull your dishes out for cleaning not leaving them in the runs all day long to be urinated and excreted upon.

Do not put down cloth bedding until night time late in the day. It will only be soiled up. Old dogs need bedding always. Young dogs do not.

Maximize your resources.

Think outside of the box.

It does not take a bloody dam chemist from M.U. or the Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Boone County to know how to do this!

I did that same think day in and day out when I worked there.

You can do the same thing in the Cat Room and with the puppy cages too if you have a full house.

Only there you play "kitty hop scotch"!

Think people and learn to think outside of the dam box instead off the point of your nose!

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro March 16, 2009 | 5:59 p.m.

Come now, Chuck.
It's so much more serene admiring the efforts of innocent little children than holding Board Members accountable for the mess they've made.
And besides, these kids are so much cuter than you and remind us all of how wonderful it is to remain oblivious of reality and politics.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 16, 2009 | 7:07 p.m.

Sorry - last time and I'm done. Yes, Chuck, I know how to do this, and I have worked as a caretaker in lab animal facilities before. With dogs, cats, rabbits, sheep, rats, mice, guinea pigs, you name it.

You do this procedure once a day, right? You can't very well be doing this when potential adopters are looking at the animals. My point is, that if you have too many animals for the space, you'll have too many dogs and cats doing their business on your nice clean floor, and the emissions from the business will be too much for the air handlers to clear, and not smell. It really has very little to do with how well the room is scrubbed - the source of the odor is the #2, and once that is flushed away, the odor is too.

But if you have so many animals that the #2 piles up during business hours, it's going to smell like, well, #2.

This is why I hope the get a shelter makeover. More space, perhaps better air handlers, etc. Kudos to the shelter volunteers, and Libby and Amanda!!


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 16, 2009 | 7:38 p.m.

Mark it only builds up if you do not clean properly daily I guarantee you 100%!

Remember I used to clean that facility back in 2001 and believe me the procedure I lined out done once every morning, then your employees stay on poop patrol every hour or so you do not have the smell they do now.

Guaranteed to work every day except when staff are off and work efficiently.

There is no excuse for that facility to ever smell as bad as it does now!!

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 16, 2009 | 7:41 p.m.

Added Note: Mark the smell is a combination of urine and pop not cleaned out of every nook and crack properly daily.

I would hate to go into any of those employees or volunteers houses if they let the facility look and smell like it does.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro March 16, 2009 | 8:10 p.m.

I would think the following:
#1...The smell, from the lack of disinfectant in the drainage channel which runs through the facility, needs more attention.
#2...The over use of rags, cloths and blankets in the cages pose a hygiene problem.
#3...Animals living in fear and stress secrete smells from their pores as well as other parts used for elimination.
#4...Volunteers who are not supervised well tend to prefer to socialize with each other, up front in the reception area, as opposed to getting their hands dirty.
#5...Guidance and support from the ASPCA might help.
Personally, I submit an application to volunteer at the shelter every so often.
Just recently, I received an e-mail acknowledgment which also contained the e-mail addresses of about 150 other volunteers. After seeing and smelling this animal warehouse, called the Humane Society, I have been reminded that they can keep their T-Shirt hawking and inferior maintenance. When I forget how bad the place is run, I just might volunteer to provide direct companionship and care to these unfortunate pets in transition. Until then, I am compelled to advocate for better management and a facility such as the old Sinclair Farm with a collaboration effort amongst the Society's Board, MU, the city, the county, PAWS, Second Chance, the ASPCA and any other groups of people who care enough to organize and combine their resources for the betterment of these adoptable future service animals and house pets and stop the killing of healthy young and older dogs and cats due to "lack of space."

(Report Comment)

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