If supporters of Little Shelter in Huntington and Bobbi and the Strays in Ozone Park are on pins and needles at the moment, it's no surprise. Both New York shelters, along with 18 fellow contenders nationwide, are among the top twenty finalists in the highly publicized Zootoo Shelter Makeover Contest, which will award a top prize of a $1 million makeover to the winning shelter.

Bobbi and the Strays Founder Bobbi Giordano escorts Zootoo's Richard Thompson on his tour of the Ozone Park adoption center.

The contest, created by Zootoo founder Richard Thompson, has for the past several months drawn national attention to the important contributions being made in cities and towns across America by animal shelters. Recognizing that many shelters are limited in their efforts by a lack of funding for shelter improvements, Mr. Thompson created the Zootoo Shelter Makeover Contest to recognize and provide funds for some of the country's most deserving shelters. In addition to the top prize of a $1 million makeover, 19 other shelters will receive prizes of $5,000 to $10,000 to be used for shelter improvements.

The contest's first phase drew to a close at the end of March, when selection of the 20 finalists was completed. Shelters accrued points based on their supporters' on-line participation on Zootoo.com, the largest pet community site for lovers of all types of pets. The 20 shelters that accrued the highest number of points were named finalists. In April, site visits by Mr. Thompson and his team to each of the top 20 shelters began, and when those visits have been completed, in mid-May, Mr. Thompson will announce the winner on national television.

To generate enthusiasm for the contest and awareness of the extraordinary efforts being made by shelters and rescue groups nationwide, Mr. Thompson appeared on Fox's The Mike & Juliet Show on March 14. In recognition of NYC's model collaborative efforts to save lives and end animal homelessness, he invited Mayor's Alliance President Jane Hoffman to appear with him on the show, accompanied by Mickey, Pebbles, Wilma, and Cricket, four fabulous dogs for adoption. (To view a clip of the show, click here.)

Little Shelter President Maryann Chernovsky welcomes Zootoo Founder and CEO Richard Thompson (far left), Town of Huntington Supervisor, Frank P. Petrone, and Legislator 16th District Steven H. Stern (far right).

The Mayor's Alliance is proud that two of its member organizations achieved top-20 status in the makeover contest. And regardless of which shelter wins the top prize, all shelters are winners because the contest has shone a bright light on the important work they do.

To keep the momentum going, Zootoo already has launched a new contest — "Zootoo to the Rescue Sweepstakes" — to recognize and reward rescue groups for their lifesaving efforts. To read more about the sweepstakes, to keep abreast of results in the Shelter Makeover Contest, or to find out how you can join Zootoo.com's online pet community, visit the website atwww.Zootoo.com.