Betty Would be Proud

Written by Theresa-Marie Wilson

Theresa-Maria Wilson has been a journalist covering the North Coast and South County area for over 20 years. She is also the founder of Cat Noir CC and is currently working on a novel.

January 28, 2022

Woods Humane Society received financial support from the community as part of the online Betty White Challenge movement that helped animal shelters and rescue organizations across the country. This mural by Corie Mattie went up on Melrose Ave. in Los Angeles.

The passing of actress and animal rights activist Betty White on Dec. 31 was not the way fans of the beloved icon wanted to end 2021, but something really “pawsome” came out of it. 

On Jan. 17, what would have been White’s 100th birthday, people across SLO County joined others around the world in opening their hearts and wallets to take part in the social-media driven Betty White Challenge. The hashtag that went viral encouraged people to donate to animal shelters and rescue organizations of their choice. The asking amount was $5. 

In one day, one challenge, San Luis Obispo County’s Woods Humane Society received 970 donations totaling about $35,000.

“We were blown away by the huge response to the challenge and by the generosity of our community,” said Jamie Relth, Woods communications manager. “Considering this was not something we had planned as a fundraiser or event of our own, it was one of the biggest spontaneous fundraising days we’ve ever seen. We have Betty White to thank for inspiring so many, near and far.”

Woods is a nonprofit that relies on donations that allow them to help about 3,000 animals per year with food, shelter, medical care, spay/neuter, and placement into loving homes. 

“On average, we spend $800 on each animal in our care, and sometimes much more than that when there are medical emergencies,” Relth said. “The donations made will help us to continue this work and help even more animals receive the care they need and deserve.”

In celebration of the challenge and White’s 100th birthday, Woods also passed along donations straight to the animals by sponsoring up to $100 on all adoptions that day. 

“We had a very busy day,” Relth said, “of people coming in to consider adopting, and eight animals found forever homes on her birthday, including one of our long-term large dogs who had been with us several months.”

White was best known for her work on television shows “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,”  “The Golden Girls” and “Hot in Cleveland.” Through it all, she remained a champion for animals and charitable organizations dedicated to their humane treatment. 

Although it’s impossible to say that the Betty White Challenge will become an annual event, you can bet animal welfare organizations are hoping it does. 

“Betty White made a very lasting impression over so many years as a celebrity and advocate,” Relth said. “She certainly deserves to have a day dedicated to honoring and celebrating her each year.

Woods has adoption locations at 875 Oklahoma Ave, San Luis Obispo and 2300 Ramona Rd, Atascadero. Donations are always accepted at


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