COLUMBIA — The love of my life is a seven-pound, rather hairy little gentleman who enjoys long walks in the park and riding in the car with the windows down. It was love at first sight, and three years later we have just finished celebrating his third birthday with a party at Twin Lakes Park, surrounded by his closest friends, both two and four-legged.
Rocky has seen me through tough times and bad days. He knows how to cheer me up and is always happy to see me when I get home. Like many other pet owners, I consider him a member of my family. Unfortunately, most people go through life never experiencing the kind of loving relationship I have with my Rocky. Thanks to the Central Missouri Humane Society, where I adopted Rocky, many mid-Missourians are nodding their heads in agreement as they read this. But like many organizations that try to do the most good, they often face the hardest struggles.
Just this past September, the Humane Society was forced to make cutbacks at the expense of staff and animals because of a lack of funding. The shelter shortened its hours and sought assistance from the city.
But thanks to a miracle in the form of two middle school girls and an online contest, our community has shown how much it cares for the Central Missouri Humane Society.
Zootoo.com began hosting a contest to provide a $1 million makeover for one lucky shelter. When Libby Burks and Amanda Huhman, two Columbia teens, decided to enter Columbia's shelter in the contest, the Central Missouri Humane Society ranked at number 859. By the end of phase one of the contest, Libby and Amanda had helped lead the humane society to the No. 1 spot, earning the Humane Society $15,000 in total.
“It’s all about the next generation, not my generation,” Thompson said during the tour, urging youths to get more involved in online volunteering.
“These girls are the spark for the community,” Thompson told the crowd of more than 250 people gathered at the shelter showing their support.
Mayor Darwin Hindman said, “It’s inspiring the way the community has come together … Columbia is good at this; it gets behind things and does well.”
The gatherings on March 19 at the Humane Society and on Broadway show Mayor Hindman is right. We have gotten behind the movement. But we’re only through the beginning of the contest. Phase two is over for us, and on April 7, Thompson and the rest of Zootoo.com will announce the top 10 finalists at the HSUS Animal Care Expo in Las Vegas.
We still need to keep up with Zootoo.com to keep our shelter in the No. 1 spot for phase three of the contest. Phase three is all about America’s votes. I’m urging all of you who haven’t created your free profile on the site to do so. Then get on your profile and blog, post pictures and meet others in your community who love animals. This gets your shelter points. Have fun and talk about your pets while simultaneously doing a good deed.
Beginning April 13, people will be allowed to vote up to 10 times per day for the shelter of your choice. On April 19, the voting will cease and the shelter with the most votes will be announced as the winner on April 27.
Being both an animal lover and someone who has adopted a loving, energetic, exceptional pet from the Central Missouri Humane Society, I want to express my appreciation and respect for those who work and volunteer at the shelter, helping those who can’t speak up for themselves. You all deserve this makeover and I know with the help and support of Columbia, we will be able to get that for you. And a big thanks to Libby and Amanda for rallying our community and fighting for a cause that is important to you. You girls are an inspiration.
Columbia has shown no matter how many hardships we face with the economy, the job market and the uncertainties of tomorrow, we will always be able to come together and show our town’s true heart. As Mayor Hindman told the crowd on March 19, “This is Columbia at its best.”
Tracy Barnes graduated from MU in 2008 with degrees in journalism and English. She is a former copy editor and multimedia editor for the Missourian. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.