Rachael Ray and the ASPCA Combine Forces to Help Sandy's Animal Victims

Rachael Ray is many things to many people - a favorite television personality, a bestselling author, a teacher, and a philanthropist. To homeless dogs and cats, Rachael is a rock star who is pulling out all the stops to save them.

Earlier this year, the ASPCA first partnered with Rachael Ray to save animals through the ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge - a contest in which animal shelters across the country compete to save more animals and win grants at the same time. The 2012 $100K Challenge has been enormously successful, and we'll announce the results later this month.

The ASPCA has been working on many fronts to help animals impacted by Hurricane Sandy, and Rachael Ray told us she wanted to partner with us on a new endeavor to help Sandy's animal victims. The need is daunting, but the animals will not be forgotten.

From preparing for the hurricane to dealing with its aftermath, the ASPCA has been on the ground to protect animals at risk. We've had responders travel from around the country to rescue animals endangered by the storm, and we've partnered with PetSmart Charities, Inc. to provide pet supplies (crates, pet food, cat litter, leashes and other goods) to thousands of people with pets throughout the region.

The ASPCA has rescued animals like Precious, the dog, and her three cat siblings from their home in the Rockaways. Their human mom had evacuated with her seven children and they were staying in an evacuation shelter in Queens. She contacted the ASPCA for help, and we were able to reunite her with her animals.

As a member of the New York City Office of Emergency Management's Animal Planning Task Force, the ASPCA has collaborated with other animal welfare groups to launch a hotline to help New York City's animals. Callers to the hotline can request pet supplies, report abandoned animals, and advise of any other needs they have. The Animal Help Hotline is (347) 573-1561 and is manned seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.

Whenever and wherever a disaster strikes nationwide, the ASPCA's Grants department expedites the review of grant requests made by applicants impacted by the disaster. Hurricane Sandy has been no different, and so far the ASPCA has awarded grants to worthy recipients, such as City Critters, Monmouth County SPCA, Staten Island Hope Animal Rescue and Urban Cat League. These groups are using the funds awarded them for projects such as replacing the destroyed winter shelters used by feral cats and helping affected residents with their pet care needs. The ASPCA encourages animal welfare organizations to apply for grant funding to help offset costs associated with animal rescue, care, relief and re-homing following Hurricane Sandy. For information, please visit www.aspcapro.org/grants.

As the ASPCA has been distributing pet food where it is needed and providing free veterinary care to animal evacuees, we've recognized that one of the biggest needs of Sandy's victims is a safe place to board pets. While there are still a few evacuation centers available for people to stay with their pets, those centers will not allow pets to remain if their humans are not there with them. In many cases, people who cannot return home are able to stay with friends or family, but their hosts cannot accommodate their pets. Rachael Ray has donated $500,000 to the ASPCA so that we can temporarily board pets belonging to people who cannot care for them now due to housing problems resulting from the hurricane.

The $500,000 donation is made possible by the sale of Ms. Ray's pet food brand Nutrish®. In addition, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, the company that makes Ray's pet food line Nutrish®, has donated four tons of wet and dry dog food to be distributed to hungry animals in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. Since its inception in 2008, Ray has donated 100 percent of her proceeds from the sale of Nutrish® to shelters and organizations like the ASPCA, so they can implement programs like these and support shelters around the country. To date, Ms. Ray has donated more than $3 million in proceeds from the sale of Nutrish® to help animals in need.

The ASPCA Emergency Boarding Facility provides temporary sheltering for hundreds of animals displaced by Hurricane Sandy. The ASPCA facility is located at 1508 Herkimer Street in Brooklyn, is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and will be open for pets for 30 days. Those who need temporary sheltering for their pets should take a government-issued photo ID and a proof of address (utility bill, driver's license, etc.) to the facility. If possible, we'd like people to have their pets wearing ID tags in a carrier or crate along with vaccination records and medications or supplies for pets with special needs, although we certainly understand that not everyone can gather these materials given the circumstances.

Our thoughts remain with the people and animals struggling in Sandy's aftermath, and we are extraordinarily grateful to all of those who are helping the victims. From Rachael Ray to the people who are donating time or supplies, we thank you on behalf of the animals. For more information on how you can help, please visit: