Shelter uses fleece to promote adoption

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— They won't be hard to miss now.

Dogs up for adoption at the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter will soon be sporting bright orange around town.

Local businesses contributed materials, money and time to making nine orange fleece jackets for canines at the shelter.

A few dogs at the shelter tried out the toasty treat Wednesday afternoon, much to the delight of volunteers and staff.

The fleece jackets will not only keep the dogs warm on their walks, but will also provide free advertising for the shelter's adoption program.

The canine clothing includes an embroidered reference to the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter and contact information.

BAP! donated the fleece and sewed the jackets, while Yampa Valley Embroidery embroidered paws and "Adopt Me" on both sides of the jackets.

Volunteers and staff at the animal shelter often take the dogs for walks downtown and around the shelter's Thirteenth Street location.

Passersby likely assume the dogs belong to the people holding their leash, said Diane Gallagher, who organized the effort to finance and make the jackets.

The bright orange should immediately get people's attention, she said, and peak their interest in adoption.

"It's advertising for the adoption program," Gallagher said. "When the dogs go out in public, we want people to know they are up for adoption.

Gallagher, who earlier raised $1,200 for the Routt County Humane Society's Special Needs Fund by competing in a triathlon, said she decided in November to get local businesses' support for her project.

Kathleen Neal of Phoenix Resources Mortgage Company and Mitch Cantele of Remax contributed $250 toward the $500 project, and BAP! owner Bill Gamber and Yampa Valley Embroidery volunteered their materials and services.

The jackets arrived in time for the dogs' debut Sunday, when volunteers will walk them in the Diamond Hitch Parade.

Clad in the bright orange, the dogs will be walking advertisements for pet adoption at the animal shelter.

Kirsten Grabenstatter, on staff at the animal shelter, said the jackets came as a pleasant surprise.

"I didn't expect them to be so nice," she said.

The jackets should aid in raising awareness of the animal shelter and the availability of animals for adoption, she said.

The shelter's name and phone number embroidered on the jackets will go a long way toward getting the word about the need for potential pet owners to adopt, Grabenstatter added.

Because one size does not fit all dogs, three fleece jackets each for small, medium and large dogs were sewn.

The adoption promotion may not end with the fleece, either.

Gallagher said she would consider a lightweight version of the jacket for the summer.

Not one to quit fund-j2raising for a cause she firmly supports, Gallagher is also collecting items for an auction to benefit the Rainbow Bridge Fund.

The fund will establish and support a pet crematorium in the Yampa Valley. Volunteers from the Animal Assistance League of Northwest Colorado and the Routt County Humane Society would assist in the operation

of the crematorium, which would be located at the animal shelter.

KMFU will broadcast the auction of a few items every week, and all proceeds will go toward the Rainbow Bridge Fund.

Estimates for construction of the crematorium range from $35,000 to $40,000.

Those who want to contribute items for the auction can call Gallagher at 875-1103.

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