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Annual Chili Cook-off goes virtual

Society Tails

Charleston Animal Society’s Annual Chili Cook-off has been re-imagined as an online experience so people anywhere can participate the 20th anniversary of the event.

Three-time Emmy Award-winning celebrity dog trainer Brandon McMillan, currently known for his CBS Dream Team role on “Lucky Dog,” is the event’s star attraction. Visit to join thousands of animal lovers raising money for Toby’s Fund to provide medical care for homeless animals at Charleston Animal Society. The two hour “virtual chili cook-off” will be streamed on Facebook Live November 21 and will include celebrities, chefs, fundraising teams and heartwarming stories about the lives saved every day at Charleston Animal Society.

Brandon McMillan brought his expertise to help shelter dogs at Charleston Animal Society and also to create four segments that will air as part of the live stream. Live 5 News, the Charleston CBS affiliate, will be simulcasting the chili cook-off on their Facebook page as the cook-off’s official TV partner. Between Charleston Animal Society, WCSC and Brandon McMillan, more than one million fans will have the opportunity to become involved in this unique signature event.

“When the 20th Annual Charleston Animal Society Chili Cook-off had to transform from being an in-person event with thousands of people attending to an online fundraiser, I was honored to help lead the pack,” said McMillan. “The chili cook-off is Charleston Animal Society’s largest fundraising event of the year and it’s critical to raise funds so they can continue to provide lifesaving services.”

McMillan has been a dog trainer to the stars for most of his career. Some of his clients include Ellen DeGeneres, Andy Cohen, Don Cheadle, James Caan, Ronda Rousey, Chris Hardwick, Wolfgang Puck and Kate Hudson.

“What’s brilliant about the virtual chili cook-off is that anyone can sign up to participate by hosting a small group in their homes to make chili and fundraise online,” said Charleston Animal Society President and CEO, Joe Elmore, CFRE, CAWA.

Virtual fundraising recognitions are earned at various milestones and participants can share their efforts and success through their own social media pages. When teams reach larger fundraising goals, their efforts will be recognized as part of the Facebook Live streaming event from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on November 21.

“Anything goes when you can participate simply by having chili with friends at home and setting up a fundraising page. From a themed chili-making party to posting videos of your family making their favorite dish, anyone can get involved and help raise funds for the important work of the Animal Society,” Elmore said.

“Being involved in the community and supporting local non-profits is important to all of us at Live 5 News,” said Live 5 WCSC Vice President and General Manager Dan Cates. “Charleston Animal Society is a cherished partner of Live 5 News and we are thrilled to partner with the organization to celebrate people and pets while raising needed funds to help homeless pets.”

This year’s “Rescue Brew” winner will also be unveiled at the Virtual Chili Cook-off. More than 500 people entered their pets. The winning dog and cat will each appear on the labels for Palmetto Brewing Company’s special fall release of the 2020 “Rescue Brew Beer.”

For more information about sponsorships, visit or email Sean Hawkins:

Joe Elmore is executive director of the Charleston Animal Society.

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