Staff at the Cortez Animal Shelter have begun their annual tradition of walking dogs down Main Street for the 12 Strays of Christmas fundraiser.
Every year, the shelter asks local businesses and individuals to sponsor a dog or cat for $25 as a way to raise money and awareness of homeless pets. Dogs bearing the names of each sponsor walk down Main Street during the lunch hour every day through the end of December. As of Wednesday, 38 people and businesses had sponsored pets, and this year’s event had already raised about $1,800.
Brenda Cunningham, a part-time employee at the shelter, said the 12 Strays event usually raises a lot of money.
“Everybody does a really great job helping out the community this time of the year,” she said.
This is the sixth year the shelter has held the fundraiser.
On Wednesday, Cunningham brought some of her own dogs on the Main Street parade, along with an adoptable red heeler from the shelter named Honey. She was joined by her two daughters, Zayla and Zoey, and her fellow employees David Morgan and Erin Ryan, who also brought their own pets. The dogs attracted many admirers as they made their way past the downtown businesses, several of which had already sponsored a pet through the shelter. A few of the sponsors who have signed up so far include Slavens True Value Hardware, The Good Life Pet Food and Supplies, Blue Sky Homes and Land, Holiday Inn and Brenda Hindmarsh.
Shelter director Jennifer Crouse said she has seen “a lot of interest” among Cortez residents for this year’s fundraiser. The shelter typically gets about 75 sponsors throughout the month of December.
Fundraisers like this could become more important for the shelter in 2018, since the Montezuma County government’s budget has cut its annual contribution to the agency in half. Crouse said she doesn’t know yet how the city of Cortez, which provides most of the shelter’s funding, will deal with the loss of revenue. “I know we’re getting cut, I just don’t know where we will come up with the difference yet,” she said.
But she added that donations and volunteer hours from Cortez residents are always helpful.
In 2016, the shelter took in 1,300 cats and dogs from all over the Four Corners area. Pets that don’t get adopted by locals are sent to larger no-kill shelters in Colorado. Employees at the Cortez shelter also foster animals, care for puppies and kittens and give basic training to the strays that come in.
See more photos of the dogs and cats at the Cortez Animal Shelter’s Facebook page.