By SUE MANNING
LOS ANGELES (AP) Rachael Ray is looking for 64 charities
to compete in a $200,000 contest to find the most deserving pet
cause in the country.
Using basketball's March Madness format, Mutt Madness will
start with 64 contestants, Ray said. These will be whittled
down by Ray and a panel of pet lovers from entries submitted
through www.rachaelray.com/muttmadness by Sept. 30.
Each of the top 64 groups gets $1,000. Winners of the next
several rounds, chosen by online votes, will get another
$1,000. The final voting showdown is worth $25,000 for second
place and $50,000 for the winner. The champ will be announced
in early December, Ray said.
Ray, an Emmy-award winning talk show host and the mastermind
of Food Network's ‘‘30 Minute Meals,’’ joined forces last year
with the Ainsworth Pet Nutrition company to develop a line of
dog food and treats called Rachael Ray Nutrish.
Everything she gets from the sale of dog food goes to
Rachael's Rescue (www.rachaelsrescue.org), an organization
dedicated to helping at-risk animals through adoption, medical
care, education, training and outreach initiatives.
The rescue raised $400,000 last year, but Ray wanted to help
more people and animals. ‘‘We thought Mutt Madness would be a
fun and fair way to spread the love and the money,’’ she said
Ray's first dog, a pit bull named Boo, was her inspiration
for the rescue and the contest, she said. ‘‘She changed my life
in every good way possible.’’
Boo died a few years ago, but Ray said she had plenty of
love left for Isaboo, who appears with her in Nutrish
‘‘Pit bulls are the perfect example of dogs that are
tortured and abused,’’ she said. ‘‘I just don't see how
everybody can't be doing something for animal rescue. It's
heartbreaking to see the innocents so mistreated.’’
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