Searching for the most beautiful pet

Contest kicks off Be Kind to Animals Week

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— Something terribly, terribly wrong happens when people have pets. Their voices get higher and they start squeaking nonsense as if the pets were children.

Next week, the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter plans to celebrate this embarrassing behavior, this de-evolution of our species, with Be Kind to Animals Week.

Pet owners have been sending in photographs of their pets driving cars and wearing costumes as entrants in the annual Beautiful Pet Contest.

The contest entries will be on display May 4-11 during Be Kind to Animals Week. The pictures will hang at the animal shelter and visitors can vote for the cutest pet with a dollar contribution.

Last year, the contest raised close to $1,000 for the shelter, money that went to the spay and neuter program and to the injured animal fund.

The deadline for picture entries has been extended to Saturday. Pictures should have the name of the pet and owner, an address, phone number and the $2 entry fee.

The winner will be announced May 12. Last year's winner was a photograph of a cat wearing a pair of glasses and holding a ruler.

"It looked so smart," said Nina Rogers, vice president of the Animal Assistance League of Northwest Colorado. "This is a huge feel-good thing for us. We see a lot of things throughout the year that are frustrating and really make me angry.

"It's nice to see people completely ga-ga over their pets."

Residents' last chance to vote for their favorite pet photo Saturday during a Car Wash/Dog Wash to be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the animal shelter parking lot.

The Routt County K-9 4-H Clubs will be washing cars and dogs for anywhere from $5 to $12.

The injured animal fund pays for animals that need veterinary care but have no known owner. The county also contributes money to the fund.

The first dog to receive care through the fund was a 1-year-old black lab that had been hit by a car.

"He had a broken leg, but he was still so sweet," said Nina Rogers, vice president of the Animal Assistance League of Northwest Colorado. "He never growled or bit. If we didn't have the injured animal fund, we would have had to put him to sleep."

Perhaps the most famous recipient of the fund was "Rudy," a mixed-breed dog who suffered an injury to his shoulder. Scar tissue built up around his joint.

"He couldn't live like that," Rogers said.

The money was used to amputate Rudy's leg. He was then adopted.

"He's the apple of his daddy's eye," Rogers said. "And he doesn't seem to know he only has three legs."

Be Kind to Animals Week is in its fifth year. Beginning in March, the Animal Assistance League sent announcements to schools inviting students from kindergarten to eighth grade to participate in a story contest about kindness to animals.

In the past, stories have come in from as far away as Dinosaur and Meeker.

First- through third-place winners receive animal books. The grand prize went to an Oak Creek student last year.

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