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Lakeland Animal Shelter needs help to win million-dollar makeover

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Kayla Bunge
January 26, 2008
— Lynn Wrobel knows the nearly 30-year-old Lakeland Animal Shelter needs a facelift.

But instead of waiting years for everything to fall into place for a new facility, she entered the shelter into an online contest to win a $1 million makeover.


“We’ve been talking about things we can do for the shelter for a long time,” Wrobel said.


The 21-year-old has been working at the shelter since she turned 14. She volunteered for years before that.


She and other shelter employees thought about submitting a video to ABC’s “Extreme Makeover,” but learned the shelter wouldn’t be eligible. So when a box of contest information arrived at the shelter from ZooToo.com, Wrobel’s gears started turning.


“I thought, ‘If we can try something, it’s worth a shot,’” she said.


Pet people site

Dubbing itself the “Zagat of the pet community,” ZooToo.com is the first opinion-sharing Web site for pet people. Users can participate in discussions about products and services, read news stories, upload pictures and videos of their pets and connect with other pet owners.


The contest will award 20 shelters across the country the much-needed funding to make improvements to their facilities. The shelter deemed most deserving will win a $1 million shelter makeover. A second shelter will win a $10,000 cash prize. The remaining 18 shelters each will receive $5,000.


Users earn points for the shelter of their choice by writing reviews and discussing news each time they visit ZooToo.com. They collect more points when friends sign up, too.


“It’s picked up really quick with a lot of our volunteers,” Wrobel said.


She said it’s difficult for the Lakeland Animal Shelter to stay in the running, though, because to earn points people have to be active on the Web site.


“It’s hard to keep up with it,” Wrobel said. “I was so gung-ho about it in the beginning, but then we get busy and it’s hard to find time to jump on there.”


She said she visits ZooToo.com when there’s down time at the shelter.


Lakeland Animal Shelter stands at No. 32 with almost 114,000 points. To crack into the top 20, the shelter needs to accumulate 63,000 more points. The No. 1 shelter has nearly 988,000 points.


The contest began Oct. 1 and ends March 31.


Volunteer support

Harnessing the support of volunteers has been key in the effort to win a makeover, Wrobel said.


“Our volunteers are so dedicated to everything we do here,” she said. “I knew they would help us out a lot with it.”


Lori Hammon of Elkhorn joined ZooToo.com on Oct. 22 and has become the shelter’s top point-getter, adding more than 11,500 to the shelter’s total.


She made flyers that ask people to help the shelter earn a million-dollar makeover and hung copies near the entrances at local businesses. The flyers include instructions for how to register and start earning points for the shelter.


Wrobel said Hammon, a volunteer at the shelter, has played a big part in getting the word out.


The shelter has turned to its adopters for help, too.


Previous adopters should receive an e-mail about the contest soon.


“We have about 600 e-mails we’re waiting to send out,” Wrobel said. “That’ll push us back up.”


The shelter is giving new adopters information about the contest when they take their pets home.


Wrobel said Lakeland Animal Shelter will find its way into the top 20; that way, the shelter will be guaranteed at least $5,000.


“There are a lot of things here that can be fixed,” she said. “It’s all about the animals—whatever we can do to make their stay better.”


HOW TO HELP
Go to www.zootoo.com/makeover and click on “Join now!” Create a username and password and enter your ZIP code to designate the Lakeland Animal Welfare Society as the shelter you’d like to help.
To find out how Lakeland Animal Shelter is faring in the contest, visit www.zootoo.com/makeover/standings.

For more information, call the shelter at (262) 723-1000 and ask for Lynn Wrobel.



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