Routt County Humane Society seeks artists, business sponsors for Gimme Shelter fundraiser |

Routt County Humane Society seeks artists, business sponsors for Gimme Shelter fundraiser

Jennifer Graphwohl, who is on the RCHS Board of Directors, poses with the cat statue she will be painting for the Gimme Shelter fundraiser. (courtesy of Cary Rentola)
Jennifer Graphwohl, who is on the Routt County Humane Society board of directors, poses with the cat statue she will be painting for the Gimme Shelter fundraiser.
courtesy of Cary Rentola

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — This summer, the Routt County Humane Society will be releasing cats and dogs all across town. Each animal will be excellent at sitting and staying, is hypoallergenic and will be looking for its forever home. They’re also made out of fiberglass.

The statue display is the first phase of the Humane Society’s Gimme Shelter fundraiser. During the next few weeks, local artists may submit design ideas to decorate one of four fiberglass statue forms: a standing dog, a sitting dog, a standing cat and a sitting cat.

Statues range between 21 and 35 inches tall. They were born in Chicago and arrived at their temporary home at the shelter in Steamboat Springs last week.

Several designs have already been submitted and approved by the local Humane Society — a Winter Carnival-inspired sitting puppy; a Colorado-inspired superhero dog, complete with a superhound cape, in glass mosaic; a cat with a Dia de los Muertos design; and a cat decorated with willow reeds.

Get involved

To be a statue artist or to “foster” a statue at your business, email

Once a design is approved, the artist may pick up their statue and create their own art on it. In early July, the Humane Society will collect the transformed dogs and cats and connect them with their new foster homes: local businesses.

Any business that is open to the public — whether a restaurant, brewery, shop or service — may “foster” a statue through donating to the Humane Society and displaying the statue inside or in front of their business space.

“The whole goal of Gimme Shelter is to unite several different groups — the arts community, the residents, businesses and the animals, who are benefitted,” said Cary Rentola, the Humane Society’s development manager. “We feel it’s a nice collaborative effort.”

Rentola noted that another opportunity to “foster,” potentially for a business not open to the public or for an individual, could be to sponsor a statue at the Humane Society shelter.

Other ways to support Routt County Humane Society:
  • Purchase a gala ticket, starting in July.
  • Donate a silent auction item ahead of the Gimme Shelter Gala in September.
  • Volunteer at the Humane Society. Volunteers typically start as dog walkers. 
  • Foster a real, live animal. 
  • Participate in the monthly donor program, Fur-ever Friends, at a minimum of $15 per month
  • Utilize the Humane Society’s other services, including group pet training classes, open to the public, and an animal crematory.

“I think the statues on display will bring awareness and keep the Humane Society top of mind for people who live here,” said Jennifer Graphwohl, who is on the Humane Society’s board of directors and will also be painting a cat statue. “And visitors will see really cool community and art and nonprofit coming together.”

Once the fiberglass creatures have inspired conversation and smiles all summer, the Humane Society will collect them for another reunion and exciting adventure — the Gimme Shelter Gala on Sept. 14 at Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs.

There, among food and mingling, the cats and dogs will be auctioned off to new owners. Gimme Shelter Gala tickets go on sale in early July.

Throughout the entire Gimme Shelter fundraiser, Rentola hopes to see $50,000 or more raised for the local Humane Society.

“Our shelter costs and vet care add up very quickly,” Rentola said. “We want to be able to help every animal that’s brought to us.”

She noted that the Humane Society has seen an increase in animals the organization has been involved with each year or several years. In 2018, the local shelter provided care to 668 animals. This year, Rentola expects that number to surpass 700.

“The more fundraising we do, the more animals we’re able to help,” Rentola said.

One such animal is Lolo, a 4-year-old pit mix, who was surrendered to the Humane Society when her then-owner couldn’t afford a surgery Lolo needed for an ACL tear — a procedure costing $3,000 to $4,000, with a 16-week recovery and rehab period.

“Lolo had no other option,” Rentola said. “We stepped in to make sure she could have that surgery and have the chance for the quality of life she deserves and an opportunity to find her forever home.”

Fundraising dollars also go toward projects aimed at increasing animals’ health and potential, such as the two kitten incubators purchased after an online fundraising campaign last year. The incubators allow potential foster homes to accommodate prematurely born, orphaned kittens.

To become a statue artist, to “foster” a statue or for more information, email Cary Rentola at or call 970-233-0800.

Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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