If you just happened into this Saturday, you probably noticed the controlled canine chaos, as nearly 50 dogs — owners in tow — came and went through the downtown Gig Harbor pet shop. They were there to pose for holiday photo shoots and help raise seed money for a new rescue program that aims to save dogs facing euthanasia.
The pet owners paid $10 a head to have their pooch photographed in front of a Christmas tree surrounded by gifts. It usually took a few takes and a squeaky toy or other attention grabber to get the dogs to sit still just long enough to snap the perfect picture. But that's par for the course with animals, said photographer Tammy Murray, who specializes in portraits of pets and children.
By the end of the day, the photo opps had raised $480 for CHEW Dog Rescue, the newest endeavor at Canine Health Eduation and Welfare, a local non-profit best known for its efforts to establish a leash-free dog park in the Gig Harbor area.
"That will immediately set us up to be able to get our first dog placed," said CHEW President Sherette Main.
CHEW Dog Rescue aims to save abandoned dogs in shelters from being euthanized by building a network of foster parents willing to take an animal in until a permanent home can be found. Tailored after programs like Ginger's Pet Rescue in Seattle, which has saved more than 4,600 "death row dogs" since 2006, the new program is literally just getting off the ground.
The holiday photo event at Sophie's Touch was its first fundraiser. "And we may have found our first foster parent who can take a dog in right away," said Main. But obviously, moving forward the emphasis will be on getting more of both.
It takes on average about $200 per dog to operate a foster care rescue program the right way, said Main. That covers vets bills and other costs CHEW intends to bear, including trips to pet rescue fairs, professional training if needed, and microchipping so that a rescue dog can be returned to CHEW if something happens to it even after it's been adopted.
"It's a lifetime commitment to the dog," said Main.
In addition to the funds raised Saturday, she added that CHEW also has donors funding training scholarships for rescue dogs. Sophie's Touch owners Doralee Burd and Trena Page also have agreed to match incoming donations up to a total of $500.
"If there's something we can do to help an animal, we're just tickled to do it," said Page.