Community Invited to "HomeAgain Helps Day" On Nov. 7

MADISON, N.J, Nov. 2, 2015 - In celebration of National Shelter Appreciation Week, Merck Animal Health today announced the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL) as the Shelter of the Year for its "HomeAgain Helps" campaign. This campaign was launched to recognize exceptional shelters that have made a difference in their communities. The ARL was selected as a finalist from thousands of nominations across the country, and was subsequently selected as the winner through online public voting.

Founded in 1926, the ARL is the largest nonprofit shelter in the state and is the only shelter in the area that never turns away an animal in need. Every year, the shelter cares for more than 15,000 animals.

"The ARL staff has facilitated many animal rescues in our community - they've relocated ducklings from the middle of a Target parking lot and saved a group of kittens that fell in a sewer drain," said Jenifer Mathers, who nominated the ARL. "Yet, I think their biggest contribution is the education they provide to the public about breeds often viewed as vicious, such as pit bulls. They're helping to eliminate a lot of misconceptions."

In addition to educating the community about various breeds, the ARL works to address the reasons that animals end up in shelters, offers year-round training courses for pet owners and gives free animal behavior advice. The shelter also provides free and low-cost spay/neuter and microchipping services, cruelty intervention services, a crisis foster program, pet-assisted therapy and on-site veterinary care for areas impacted by natural disasters.

"We are so honored to win this award because it will allow us to continue to change the lives of thousands of pets and the people who love them throughout Central Iowa and beyond," said Tom Colvin, Executive Director, Animal Rescue League of Iowa. "But what makes this award really special is that it was made possible by each person who voted for us. Changing lives is truly a community effort."

To celebrate the ARL and acknowledge its staff members for their dedication to both the animals and people of Iowa, Merck Animal Health will host "HomeAgain Helps Day" from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Nov. 7. Representatives will present the ARL with the grand prize package valued at $30,000, which includes $25,000 for the ARL to use to bolster its programs and address facility needs, as well as Merck Animal Health products, a computer and an iPad.

The community is invited to join the celebration at the ARL main facility at 5452 NE 22 St. in Des Moines, and to follow the celebration on social media -- #HomeAgainHelps. Santa will also be on hand for pet photos and HomeAgain will implant free microchips for the first 50 pets in attendance. The check presentation will take place at 11 a.m.

"We are proud to recognize the Animal Rescue League of Iowa as the winner of the HomeAgain Helps campaign," said Kathleen Heaney, D.V.M., director of companion animal technical services, Merck Animal Health. "The staff at this shelter works tirelessly to impact the lives of thousands of pets and people throughout the state of Iowa each year. Just as we at Merck Animal Health are committed to the well-being of all animals, the ARL staff members truly are as well - the best interest of these animals is at the forefront of all that they do."

Lexington Humane Society (Ky.), Kitsap Humane Society (Wash.), Humane Society of Ocean City (N.J.) and Valley Animal Haven (Calif.) were among the eight finalists and will also be recognized for their significant efforts within their respective communities.

HomeAgain® is an advanced lost pet recovery service dedicated to the safety and well-being of pets. As the leader in microchip and pet recovery services in the United States, HomeAgain partners with veterinarians, shelters and volunteers to reunite more than 14,000 pets each month. For more information, visit www.HomeAgain.com.

HomeAgain Helps Runner-Up Shelters
Lexington Humane Society, Lexington, Ky.

Lexington Humane Society cares for 5,000 animals each year - 1,300 of which are rescued from high-risk or crisis situations. It offers many lifesaving programs, such as an in-house training program, "Train-A-Bull," which provides specialized training for breeds that are often harder to place in homes, such as pit bulls. In addition, it offers free and low-cost spaying and neutering and manages a pet food pantry for owners who are struggling to feed their animals. Lexington Humane Society plans to use the HomeAgain Helps prize to enhance its adoption program and take in additional high-risk animals from smaller surrounding shelters.

Kitsap Humane Society, Silverdale, Wash.

In addition to a low-cost spay/neuter program, vaccinations and microchipping services, Kitsap Humane Society provides a pet food pantry for county residents. Its staff rescues at-risk animals in need from other shelters across the region and facilitates a foster program for pets that need additional socialization or treatment for medical conditions. With the HomeAgain Helps prize money, Kitsap Humane Society plans to expand its adoption, rescue transfer and foster programs and make critical facility updates to create additional space for its animals.

Humane Society of Ocean City, Ocean City, N.J.

The Humane Society of Ocean City runs pet therapy programs for the community's schools and nursing homes. It rehabilitates injured wildlife, trains its employees to assist Animal Control officers who specialize in animal rescue and disaster relief and offers behavioral training for adopted dogs. The Humane Society of Ocean City plans to use the HomeAgain Helps prize to upgrade its kennel system and purchase new sick bay equipment to curtail disease transmission.

Valley Animal Haven, Lemoore, Calif.

Valley Animal Haven is a nonprofit, no-kill shelter that is dedicated to rescuing animals facing euthanasia at other shelters. Additionally, it educates the public on spay/neuter programs and facilitates an adoption program. Valley Animal Haven plans to use the HomeAgain Helps money to complete shelter renovations, including converting a donated portable classroom into a permanent pet infirmary.

About Merck Animal Health

Today's Merck is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. Merck Animal Health, known as MSD Animal Health outside the United States and Canada, is the global animal health business unit of Merck. Through its commitment to the Science of Healthier Animals™, Merck Animal Health offers veterinarians, farmers, pet owners and governments one of the widest range of veterinary pharmaceuticals, vaccines and health management solutions and services. Merck Animal Health is dedicated to preserving and improving the health, well-being and performance of animals. It invests extensively in dynamic and comprehensive R&D resources and a modern, global supply chain. Merck Animal Health is present in more than 50 countries, while its products are available in some 150 markets. For more information, visit www.merck-animal-health.com or connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter at @MerckAH.

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