Miranda Lambert is making Valentine's Day a little sweeter for 15 animal shelters.
Started in 2009, Lambert's MuttNation Foundation is dedicated to finding safe and happy homes for rescue pets, and a big part of that mission involves helping the shelters that make pet adoption possible.
On Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1) 2020, MuttNation announced its expanded Share the Love program — a grant program open to anyone who adopted a pet from, fostered a pet through, or volunteered at an animal shelter in 2020. Animal lovers that applied for the program, nominated their local animal shelter to receive one of 15 MuttNation Foundation $1000 grants. Now, MuttNation is ready to announce the 15 winners just in time for Valentine's Day.
"Shelter pets and the people who care for them have the biggest hearts and sharing the love for Valentine's Day feels so right," Miranda Lambert said in a statement.
Over 14,000 participants took part in this year's Share the Love program — now in its third year — greatly eclipsing the number of registrants from prior years: 2,000 in 2019, and 500 in 2018.
"It's amazing to have such an overwhelming response to our program. The number of people who participated demonstrates the commitment and value that community members provide to their local shelters. And, especially given how difficult this year's been — it just means so much," Lambert added.
Here are the 15 recipients of the $1,000 MuttNation Share the Love grants.
- Abandoned Animal Rescue of Magnolia, Texas, entered by Joni McLelland
- Angels Among Us of Alpharetta, Georgia, entered by Leslie Kinkade
- Black Dog Rescue of Cheyenne, Wyoming, entered by Emily Smith
- Corridor Animal Rescue of Houston, Texas, entered by Dawn Venditelli
- Delta Animal Shelter of Escanaba, Michigan, entered by April Chartre
- Helping Hands of Topeka, Kansas, entered by Rebekah Williamson
- McKamey Animal Center of Chattanooga, Tennessee, entered by Michele Hall
- Nicholas Pet Haven of Tyler, Texas, entered by Beckey Woodward
- Orphan Angels Cat Sanctuary of Erie, Pennsylvania entered by Jennifer Ciotti
- PAWS of Chicago, Illinois, entered by Kenny Kwan
- Pet Friends of Irwin, Pennsylvania, entered by Susan Reitz
- Pet Pal Animal Shelter of St. Petersburg, Florida, entered by Gary Simmons
- Puppy Haven Rescue of Tulsa, Oklahoma, entered by Lorie Vincent
- Sioux Falls Area Humane of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, entered by Samantha Kalved
- Second Chance Dog Rescue of San Diego, California, entered by Lynn Connot
Celebrating animals shelters and the volunteers who make their life-saving work possible has always been important to Lambert, who started volunteering with animals herself as a teen.
Now, Lambert is the mom to numerous rescue pets, including nine shelter dogs, and several rescue cats, rabbits, and horses.
"They're doing well!" Lambert told PEOPLE of her rescue pet posse.
"Delta, Cher, and Bellamy have been traveling with us on our recent airstream adventures," she said, referring to the road trips she has been taking with her husband Brendan McLoughlin.
The country star has also enjoyed her time at home with her animal family during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"My pets always help keep me grounded and help keep things in perspective," she added. "It's been nice to have some more time at home with all of them this past year. They make me smile!"
Lambert hopes that MuttNation's work and her own experiences with rescue animals inspire others to give pet adoption a chance.
"I would encourage people to be open-minded as they search for their dog. So many amazing dogs get overlooked because of stereotypes surrounding their mix of breeds," the "Settling Down" singer said "It can sometimes be harder for older dogs to get adopted, too. But the older ones are so loving, and many of them are trained already, so they can be great for first-time adopters. You can really make an impact on their life by giving them a second chance."
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