Celebrity chef and dog lover Rachel Ray plans to distribute more than $200,000 to needy animal organizations.

The money is proceeds from her pet food brand, Nutrish.


Ray launched the "Mutt Madness Awards Program" to find "the most deserving charitable organizations in America." She's looking for groups that have "demonstrated exceptional commitment to pet rescue, rehabilitation or adoption."

Charities, with 501(c)(3) status that employ no-kill practices, can go to this website and apply to be considered for a Mutt Madness Award.

The deadline is Sept. 30.

Ray will narrow the field to 64 with the help of Kathy Griffin,

Beth Ostrosky Stern and one of New York magazine's "Best Vets," Dr. Peter Harris Kross.

Once the 64 are chosen and announced they will be randomly assigned spots in the Mutt Madness brackets and receive $1,000. The charities will be judged head-to-head by visitors to the site -- winners move on in the bracket and have a chance to win more money.

In both photos, Rachael Ray poses with her dog Isaboo, a four-year-old Red Nosed pitbull. AP Photo/Nutrish,Jim Wright.