Dogs and cats take over Routt County this weekend |

Dogs and cats take over Routt County this weekend

Sophie Dingle
For the Steamboat Pilot & Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Dogs will be out this weekend for the Gimme Shelter Gala, Routt County Humane Society’s largest fundraiser. But they’re not real dogs — they’re statues. 

You may have noticed them around town this summer. The 12 dog — and cat — statues debuted at the Steamboat Springs Fourth of July parade and have since been on display at local businesses for the past eight weeks.

Made of fiberglass and designed and painted by local artists, the statues will be auctioned off at the gala.

“The gala is an exciting and unique art project and fundraiser showcasing one-of-a-kind designs by local artists on fiberglass dog and cat statues,” said Cary Rentola, Routt County Humane Society’s development manager. “Our goal is to bring arts and the community together to help us make a difference for animals in need.”

Rentola has held her position a little more than a year. But, with 19 years of nonprofit experience, including 14 in animal welfare, she is no stranger to the job; and she knows how important these events are to the community and its animals.

“Community support through events like this are an investment in the lives of dogs, cats and small animals that find safe haven with us in their greatest time of need,” Rentola said. “Fundraising directly impacts the number of animals we are able to help.”

The Human Society provides animals with shelter, veterinary care, food, socialization, enrichment, compassion and the time they need to heal, be reunited with a lost family or find their forever home. The Human Society runs an open admission shelter that welcomes nearly 700 animals annually, and there are no time limits on their stay. They also operate the only animal crematory in the county and provide spay and neuter services as well as emergency veterinary assistance to people who financially qualify. Their Safe Haven program provides emergency housing and care for pets due to conditions such as natural disasters, emergency medical situations or domestic violence.

The gala was previously held in 2008 and 2015.

If you go

What: Routt County Humane Society’s Gimme Shelter Gala
Where: Colorado Mountain College in the Neas Dining Hall and Albright Auditorium, 1275 Crawford
When: 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14
Tickets: $40 per person
For more: Visit

“We try to keep interest up and not saturate the community with statues,” Rentola said. “So the goal is to put the event on every three to five years.”

This year, the gala, held on Saturday, Sept. 14 at Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs, will take place in two parts. The first includes a walking dinner with beer, wine and a silent auction. Guests will then proceed to the auditorium for dessert, the seated program and the live auction of the dog and cat statues.

Jennifer Grathwohl, local artist and a board member of the Humane Society, created one of the statues. Her creation was a large cat, titled “Dia de los Meow-tos.”

“My inspiration was Dia de los Muertos, a celebration of both life and death. I wanted to celebrate and honor all the animals that have touched my life in such a vibrant and beautiful way,” Grathwohl said.

Her design also incorporates elements of Colorado such as Columbine flowers and aspen leaves.

Sarah Juschka and her daughter, Mia, also created statues. 

“Art and animals run deep in our family,” Juschka said. “We were inspired to pay it forward and hope that our pieces speak to others. Art is a gift that we inherited, and we believe in using it in any way we can to help — to bring hope, joy and beauty, and in this case, contributions for the animals of Routt County.”

Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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