Online pet lovers’ gathering spot hosts animal shelter makeover contest

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CLOSE COMPANIONS: Grateful to your local shelter for bringing you and your pet together? You might enjoy a Web site’s contest that will give one lucky shelter a big makeover.

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A Web site that serves as an online resource and meeting place for pet lovers is sponsoring a contest that will give a lucky animal shelter a big boost.

Zootoo.com will award the winning shelter a makeover valued at up to $1 million. Twenty semifinalists have been selected so far, and the folks behind the Web site will reduce the list of shelters to ten finalists. Then visitors to the site can vote on a finalist; the 19 runners-up will share awards totaling $195,000.

In addition to hosting the contest, Zootoo.com serves as a social networking site, allowing visitors to create personal profiles, communicate with other members and participate in dialogues about pet products and services.

Last year, St. Louis’ Stray Rescue won a similar contest hosted by the site. (Progress on that makeover can be viewed at www.Zootoo.com/makeover1/.

According to Richard Thompson, Zootoo.com founder, a survey showed all of the shelters that participated in last year’s contest saw donations increase by 21 percent, volunteers increase by 28 percent and adoptions go up 30 percent.