Angels Animal Rescue has learned that every vote really does count.

When voting ended for the Pepsi Refresh Project on June 30, the local animal rescue society was ranked in first place. Now only a bit of paperwork stands between the society and the $100,000 prize.

“We are considered finalists for the $100,000 grant,” said Judanna Dawn-Caros, Angels Animal Rescue co-founder. “Pepsi just has to do their paperwork and once that is finished we can be confirmed winners.”

Dawn-Caros said that the paperwork feels similar to being audited, but emphasized that the society is willing to do whatever it takes; after all, this has been a long time coming. After finishing four places short of the grand prize on Feb. 28 during the first round of voting, the local non-profit society was given another shot at the winnings when it was advanced into a second round. Throughout the month of June Angels flickered back and forth between first place, but in the end came out on top.

“There was really no telling on who was going to be the finalist, but I do know that there were people from all over B.C., Canada, the United States and other countries voting for Angels,” said Dawn-Caros. “I think when positive energy comes together like that, you can’t go wrong.”

Once they are confirmed winners of the Pepsi Refresh Project, which awards grants to organizations that have a positive impact on their community, Angels Animal Rescue founders plan to put the money towards expanding their current rescue facility to include an indoor housing and rehabilitation centre. Their model is the animal sanctuary featured on National Geographic’s “DogTown.”

Dawn-Caros said the money, if they are allotted it, will be nice because it will go towards making their animals as comfortable as possible, but more than anything she felt gratitude for all the people that came together and worked hard by voting daily put them in first place.

“With everything horrible and sad that we see on a daily basis when we’re out there on a rescue and start to lose faith in humanity, all I have to do is think back to all the people who were doing all they could to help,” she said. “It reminds me that there is goodness and there are kind people. That might sound sappy, but it’s how I feel in the bottom of my heart.”

Finishing first in the challenge puts the society one step closer to their DogTown dream; the next piece of the puzzle will be acquiring land to build the facility, which is in the works. Dawn-Caros hopes this will be a reality by next summer.

“The facility we have planned will be the nicest in B.C. and it will be really good for Merritt,” said Dawn-Caros who was born and raised here. “We’re happy for everyone out there that put in a vote.”