#BettyWhiteChallenge: Support Miami animal charities

In Los Angeles, on trendy Melrose Avenue, a new mural was just unveiled encouraging all of us to be more like Betty.

In Los Angeles, on trendy Melrose Avenue, a new mural was just unveiled encouraging all of us to be more like Betty.

“My life is divided in two halves: show business and animal business — two things I love the most,” Betty White once said.

The iconic Golden Girl was more than just a superstar on-screen, she was an even bigger one in life, dedicating most of her 99 years on this planet being the voice for those who have no voices.

“That’s my life, really,” she said. “I have to stay in show business to pay for my animal business.”

I found that out firsthand when I visited Betty on the set of “Hot in Cleveland” years ago, where we chatted about our shared passion for animal rights.

And that’s why artist Corrie Mattie included a QR code on her mural to make it easy for fans to honor the late actress by supporting a cause so dear to Betty’s heart.

“She was an advocate for animal welfare and animal rescue,” Mattie said. “I want to make sure it’s accessible to people to give back to the community.”

A social media challenge that has been steadily blowing up since White died on New Year’s Eve, just days shy of what would’ve been her 100th birthday. From Twitter to Instagram, tens of thousands of posts encourage fans all over the world to celebrate Betty’s birthday on Jan. 17 by donating just $5 to their favorite animal charity.

“The life of Betty White is really an inspiration for someone who’s made a lifelong commitment to helping those most at risk,” said Yolanda Berkowitz, the president and co-founder of Friends of Miami Animals, a nonprofit with the mission of saving and improving the lives of homeless pets in South Florida.

Berkowitz is pledging to match every dollar donated to her foundation, which also benefits Miami-Dade Animal Services, the recipient of many of their grants and programs. They see some 30,000 homeless dogs and cats pass through their doors every year.

“I’ve been thinking about Betty White and the impact this must-have, would’ve had on her,” she said. “I hope that everyone in our community wants to be a part of it.”

Said Flora Beal, public affairs administrator for Miami-Dade Animal Services: “If everybody chips in $5, that could be a whole lot of money. Every dollar helps us to be able to provide spay and neuter services, microchipping services, pet retention services to the community so that we can prevent these animals from ever becoming homeless and needing new families.”

Over at the Humane Society of Greater Miami, COVID-19 has shrunk the staff, and more than ever, they need the public’s support to properly care for all the dogs and cats living there, waiting for their forever homes.

“The need to help the animals doesn’t stop,” said Laurie Hoffman, the humane society’s executive director. “COVID or no COVID, and whether we have staff or no staff, we still have to take care of them and we still need funding.”

So if you want to be golden and be more like Betty — and thank her for being a friend to the animals — now is the chance to honor a life that will forever continue to inspire.

“She would be so happy,” Hoffman said. “I don’t think there’s anything that could make her happier than to see that her love for animals was carrying on.”

If you want to take part in the Betty White Challenge, donate just $5 to your favorite animal charity. And remember to use the hashtag #BettyWhiteChallenge when sharing the message on social media through Jan. 17.

Below are links to donate:

Friends of Miami Animals: fomapets.org/donate

Humane Society of Greater Miami: Humanesocietymiami.org/donate

About the Author:

Louis Aguirre is an Emmy-award winning journalist who anchors weekday newscasts and serves as WPLG Local 10’s Environmental Advocate.