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The Petco Foundation and 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' Announce Holiday Wishes Grant Campaign Winners

$500,000 awarded to 33 animal welfare groups; Selected from more than 4,500 applications, The Pet Rescue Center receives $100,000 grand prize

SAN DIEGO, Dec. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Today the "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," and the Petco Foundation along with Ellen and her natural pet food company Halo, Purely for Pets, announced The Pet Rescue Center in Mission Viejo, Calif., as the grand prize winner of the Petco Foundation's Holiday Wishes Grant Campaign, and presented the organization with a $100,000 grant to support its mission to save animal lives.

The center was chosen as the grand prize winner for its story about Sammy, a male pit bull rescued from life as a bait dog. When he arrived at the center, Sammy had massive scars and fresh wounds covering his body, including a 3-4 inch laceration on the bottom of his chin and significant damage to his ears. Once healed, and while waiting for a new home, Sammy had the chance to pay it forward to another needy puppy who was found bleeding in a shopping center parking lot and in desperate need of a blood transfusion. Sammy's blood type was a match and he proved to be the perfect patient throughout the entire process, earning him a spot in the center's hall of fame for memorable rescues. And Sammy's will to live and help others did not go unnoticed. Soon, a couple who was touched by his story came to meet Sammy. Although hesitant due to misconceptions about his breed, the couple was amazed by his demeanor and happy-go-lucky attitude, and they decided to adopt him. Sammy now lives with his new Wheaton Terrier brother and a family that loves him dearly.

The Pet Rescue Center works with the communities of California, shelters, veterinarians and animal rescue groups to save the lives of dogs and cats in need. The group provides a veterinary supervised temporary sanctuary for pets while they work to find adoptive families. The group provides educational resources, sponsors medical treatments and stocks a Pet Pantry that provides free pet food and cat litter for seniors and unemployed pet owners to keep pets in their homes.  To learn more about The Pet Rescue Center and see a video about Sammy, visit www.thepetrescuecenter.org.

The story of Sammy was just one of one of more than 4,500 applications received, prompting the Petco Foundation to increase the grant money awarded from $250,000 to $500,000. Thirty-three well-deserving groups will now receive grants, just in time to make their holiday wishes to save more lives come true this year. Winners were chosen based on the quality of the organization's overall work and the impact of their top success story. The stories of heroism and compassion include animals with special needs who've become therapy animals for kids with same condition; paralyzed animals rescued by people with similar mobility challenges; a cat mother nursing a one-day-old puppy as one of her own;  countless severely injured animals whose will to live inspired those around them and communities rallying together to save lives. The grants include: 

Grand Prize $100,000 Winner:  

Second Place $50,000 Winners:  

  • Saint Francis Animal Center (Georgetown, South Carolina) in honor of Hope, a puppy saved by a high school baseball team after an apparent stabbing
  • Community Animal Welfare Society (Salt Lake City, Utah) in honor of Phoenix, a cat saved during the recent wildfires.

Third Place $25,000 Winners:

  • Mohawk & Hudson River Human Society (Menands, New York)
  • Humane Society of Redmond (Redmond, Oregon)
  • Richmond Animal League (Richmond, Virginia)
  • Cleveland Animal Protective League (Cleveland, Ohio)
  • San Antonio Pets Alive! (San Antonio, Texas)

Fourth Place $10,000 Winners:

  • Animal Refugee Response                        
  • Friends of DeKalb Animals Inc.                 
  • Human Society/SPCA of Nelson County Inc.
  • Terre Haute Humane Society
  • National Mill Dog Rescue Network
  • Wright Way Rescue                                                 
  • Tail Wagger's 1990                                      
  • Crash Landing Inc.                                                  
  • Caring Hands Humane Society
  • Humane Society of Northeast Iowa                                       

Fifth Place $5,000 Winners:

  • Last Hope Animal Rescue, Inc.
  • Pal Rescue & Adoption Inc.
  • Animal Welfare Association
  • Greenville County Animal Care
  • Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society
  • Hancock County Animal Shelter
  • REZQ Dogs
  • South County Cats
  • Maddie & Friends Inc.
  • Second Chance Thoroughbreds, Inc.
  • Catpaws (Helen Sanders Cat Protection and Welfare Society)
  • Chako Pit Bull Rescue
  • Burbank Animal Shelter      
  • Lifeline Animal Project
  • Proverbs 12:10 Animal Rescue & Adoption, Inc.

"We were overwhelmed with the response to this campaign and brought to tears by the incredible success stories and tireless work being done around the country to help animals," said Kogut. "Every story was tremendous, but the winning success stories really stood out as examples of humans helping animals and at times, those animals helping humans right back. Some of these animals had been through tremendous hardship and we were so touched by their will to live, their trust and the unconditional love they now share in their new forever homes." 

Each of the winning organizations will be receiving checks from the Petco Foundation in the next two weeks, just in time to give back to more animals in need during the holiday season. Grant money will be used at the discretion of the winners for things like facility upgrades or expansion, support for adoption events, animal care and more. 

To see The Pet Rescue Center surprised by Ellen's team with their $100,000 grant, visit Ellen's Good News blog. To learn more about the Holiday Wishes Grant Campaign and view more of the winning stories, visit www.petco.com/holidaywishes. For more information on the Petco Foundation, visit www.petcofoundation.org.

About Petco and the Petco Foundation
Petco is a leading pet specialty retailer that focuses on nurturing the powerful relationship between people and pets. We do this by providing the products, services, advice and experiences that keep pets physically fit, mentally alert, socially engaged and emotionally happy. Everything we do is guided by our vision for Healthier Pets. Happier People. Better World. We operate more than 1,250 stores nationwide and in Puerto Rico, including more than 80 Unleashed by Petco locations, a smaller format neighborhood shop; nine Pooch Hotel destinations for pet daycare, boarding and spa services; and petco.com. The Petco Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization, has raised more than $115 million since it was created in 1999 to help promote and improve the welfare of companion animals. In conjunction with the Foundation, we work with and support thousands of local animal welfare groups across the country and, through in-store adoption events, help find homes for more than 350,000 animals every year.

About Halo, Purely for Pets
For over 25 years, Halo, Purely for Pets® has created holistic pet products of uncompromising quality. Halo believes nutrition is the single most important factor in the quality of a pet's life. Ellen -- a long time Halo customer – became part-owner in 2008. Halo's natural dog food, natural cat food, treats, supplements and grooming products are available at PETCO, Unleashed by Petco, and other fine pet specialty and natural food stores. Learn more www.halopets.com.

SOURCE Petco Foundation

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