SAN BERNARDINO (CBS) — Talk show host Rachel Ray has teamed up with ASPCA to launch a nationwide challenge where animal shelters compete for a $100,000 prize.

“I could not be more thrilled and proud of the competing shelters,” Ray said.

Ray is the spokesperson for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty To Animals contest involving 50 animal shelters nationwide.

An animal shelter in Devore is one of two Southern California facilities to have qualified for the challenge.

To put the shelter in the running, shelter head Brian Cronin and his team will work to find homes for at least 300 more pets than it did a year ago. Doing so would put the shelter in the running for a $100,000 grant, which Cronin would like to share with 100 non-profit charities that help with animal rescue in the county.

As of Wednesday night, the shelter was ranked #8 in the contest.

“Our goal will to be to provide additional veterinary care and subsidies to help those rescue groups achieve their missions as well,” Cronin said.

Cronin says the slumping economy in the Inland Empire has caused a spike in the number of pets surrendered to shelters and rescues.

“Many simply find that they can’t afford their pets any longer. And, unfortunately, many animals are abandoned everyday,” Cronin said.

Approximately 40 animals enter the Devore facility each day, which means nearly half of them have to be put to sleep to prevent overcrowding.

To help kick off the challenge San Bernardino County officials are hosting a pet adoption event this weekend at the Yucaipa Regional Park at 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Organizers say that adoption fees will be significantly reduced for those who choose to take an animal home from the event.

For more information on the San Bernardino County animal adoption event call (800) 472-5609.


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