Best in Shelter is a new charitable organization founded by bestselling author Martha Grimes designed to raise awareness of shelter animals. It’s the region’s first virtual dog show where real animals sponsored by four regional animal groups will compete to win cash prizes to benefit the participating nonprofit organizations. The online competition  will run from June 14 through June 17, 2012, at

“Best in Shelter” was inspired by one of the major “best in show” dog competitions. Or rather, inspired by the commercials between events. The commercials featured dogs behind bars; in other words, shelter animals. The contrast between the pedigree dogs, so well-trained, so well-taken care of; so admired; so worthy was in such contrast to the dogs behind bars that it seemed like two different dog-worlds.

The aim of “Best in Shelter” is to raise awareness of animal shelters and what they have to offer. We want to blot out the stereotypes of shelter animals as being the opposite of show dogs— as being untrained, unkempt, unworthy. This is far from the truth. Not all the dogs you see in shelters are there because they were unmanageable. Most are there because the shelters have rescued them from the street, from abuse, from “hoarding”, from puppy mills.

“I can’t go into those places,” a friend of mine said of shelters. I don’t think people avoid animal shelters because they don’t care, but because they do. They don’t want to walk away feeling guilty about all of those animals they couldn’t do anything for.

You can do something for the featured dogs on this website and their shelters: you can vote for the dog you would adopt if you were able to.  “Best in Shelter” is a virtual dog show, but the dogs are real.

Visit for more.