Betty White challenge to aid animal rescues - Albuquerque Journal

Betty White challenge to aid animal rescues

Betty White with Uggie, the dog star of “The Artist,” as she arrives for her 2012 Friars Club Roast. (Charles Sykes/Associated Press)

We all have our ways to decompress, to escape the daily grind – and in these crazy times it’s easy to feel ground down daily to the nubs.

We put on music, do yoga, hike, finish off a pint of rocky road, finish off a pint of vodka, finish a jigsaw puzzle, meditate, make bread, eat bread, breathe.

One of my surefire stress-busters is watching reruns of “The Golden Girls,” a sitcom from the 1980s that remains ubiquitous on several cable channels, the episodes played back to back ad infinitum. It’s a far better thing to fall asleep to than my usual nightly dose of news programming.

It’s not the funniest show, definitely not the deepest. But it has a happy ending, and there’s something about seeing a group of pals and confidants who squawk at each other sometimes but always come together in the end over hugs, nightly slices of cheesecake at the kitchen table and endlessly ridiculous but earnest St. Olaf stories told by Rose, played by the beloved Betty White.

What a final kick in the butt it was then that we would lose White on the last day of a terrible year, and just weeks shy of her 100th birthday.

We’ve lost many icons lately. But I don’t think I’ve seen such an outpouring of love for a woman we never met but felt we knew so well.

One thing we knew about White was that she loved animals and was a champion for their welfare. Shortly after confirming her death was not another cruel hoax or a weird joke about her “dyeing” her hair (that happened in 2014), the hashtag #BettyWhiteChallenge began trending on social media.

The challenge is simple: To honor White, donate to any animal shelter, rescue or agency in her name by Jan. 17, which would have been her centennial birthday. It’s a golden challenge, I think, whether or not you were a fan.

I’ve featured a lot of animal charities in this column and checked out many more, so to keep things local I’ve compiled some of those groups worthy of your donation. Many of them are under stress because of rising needs and falling generosity, so think of this as a stress buster of the very best kind.

Actress Betty White laughs as an African eagle roosts overhead during her visit to the Los Angeles Zoo in 2006 to accept an Ambassador to the Animals award for her decades of dedication to the humane treatment of animals. (Nick UT/Associated Press)

If money is tight, there are other ways to donate. Albuquerque Animal Welfare and Bernalillo County Animal Care and Resource Center and other government-run animal services and shelters in cities and counties across the state always have need for volunteers, blankets and toys, foster homes and folks willing to adopt a furry pal and confidant.

Unless otherwise noted, the following groups are Albuquerque-based, though their work often stretches much farther. I’ve also included whether they are nonprofits (for your tax deduction needs) when that is known.

Thank you for being a friend to the animals.

• Animal Humane New Mexico – Largest animal welfare agency in the state. Provides shelter, veterinary care, education, adoptions. Nonprofit. On Facebook,, 505-255-5523.

• Argos, A Shelter Dog Rescue – Foster, rehabilitation, veterinary care, education, adoption for shelter dogs. Nonprofit. On Facebook,,

• Daisy Farm Sanctuary – Retirement home for senior and special needs dogs in East Mountains. On Facebook,

• East Mountain Pet Alert – Volunteers who help reunite lost pets with their families east of Albuquerque. On Facebook,

• Haven for Hamsters Rescue and Sanctuary – Emergency rescue for hamsters and guinea pigs. Rio Rancho. On Facebook,, 505-918-7113.

• Kindred Spirits Animal Sanctuary – End-of-life care and hospice for older, unwanted dogs, horses, birds outside Santa Fe. Nonprofit. On Facebook,, 505-471-5366.

• NMDog – Volunteer, foster-based rescue for chained, abused, forgotten dogs. Nonprofit. On Facebook,, 505-886-1729.

• New Mexico Horse Rescue at Walkin N Circles Ranch – Rehabilitates, retrains, rehomes rescued horses who live on working ranch in Stanley. Nonprofit. On Facebook,, 505-286-0779.

• Pawsitive Life Rescue of New Mexico – Fosters homeless, abandoned animals, provides veterinary care, vaccine clinics, grooming and finds forever homes. Nonprofit. On Facebook,, 505-570-2063.

• Penny Lane Foal Rescue – Care, intensive foundation skills training, placement of orphaned and abandoned horses, programs for youths to work with horses. Nonprofit. Rio Rancho. On Facebook,, 505-373-3203.

• Pet-A-Bulls – Volunteers carefully select bully breeds from shelters to train, provide veterinary care and vaccinate to prepare well-behaved dogs for adoption. Nonprofit. On Facebook,, 505-316-2089.

• Street Cat Hub – Focuses on improving lives of feral cats by spaying/neutering and finding them homes. Nonprofit. On Facebook,, (505) 247-9357 but prefers communication via web page or

• Sunflower Sanctuary – Country home in East Mountains for elderly, sick and wounded animals from dogs to horses to live out their days. Nonprofit. On Facebook,, 505-286-6302.

• Tootsie’s Vision – Finds foster and forever homes for sightless dogs, provides veterinary care, increases awareness for what great pets they make. Nonprofit. On Facebook,, 505-440-3208.

• Viva! New Mexico Rural Animal Rescue – Rescues homeless pets from rural shelters. Nonprofit. On Facebook,,

• Watermelon Mountain Ranch – New Mexico’s largest no-kill shelter provides foster/adoption of pets, training, retirement village for dogs, veterinary care and Molly’s Mercy Missions animal rescue in Southwest and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico shelters. Nonprofit. Rio Rancho. On Facebook,, 505-771-0140 but prefers email at

• Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico – Veterinary and rehabilitation care for orphaned and injured wildlife. Nonprofit. On Facebook,, 505-344-2500.

UpFront is a front-page news and opinion column.

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