Locals dress pets in tutus to help Humane Society

Sophi models her new tutu recently at the Whitman County Human Society in Pullman. Sophie’s owner made the tutu as part of Tutus For Teeth, a fundraiser for the shelter’s new dental fund.

People who enjoy dressing their pets in ridiculous clothes could do so for a cause at the Whitman County Humane Society in Pullman over the long President’s Day weekend.

The nonprofit group organized its first Tutus for Teeth fundraising event, where it invited people to fit their cats and dogs with colorful tutus supplied by the shelter for $8. People could also donate tutus to the shelter pets and have photos of the dog or cat emailed to them.

The money raised goes toward the shelter’s recently established dental fund to help pay for dental procedures for the furry guests.

The WCHS came up with the idea for a dental fund after a cat named Fishly was brought in with a severe case of gingivitis.

When the shelter’s staff spoke to a vet, they were told the procedure to fix the cat’s teeth would be expensive and they were better off euthanizing him.

Ashley Phelps, director of the WCHS, said dental procedures are often expensive. When the organization sent Fishly to another vet to get the procedure done, it cost $700. Ultimately, the vet removed 14 of the cat’s teeth.

Phelps said dental problems are fairly common among pets who are given up to the shelter.

“A lot of the animals we get have been severely neglected,” she said.

An issue such as gingivitis, aside from being very painful, can lead to other problems for the pet, such as heart disease, Phelps said.

The dental fund was created to help the WCHS pay for these operations. Once the staff gets a quote from the vet, the group’s board decides whether to approve paying for the procedure. The adoption fee will be slightly higher to help replenish the dental fund, Phelps said.

Phelps said the shelter is hoping to have at least $1,000 to $2,000 in the fund to start with. As of Monday afternoon, 20 people had bought tutus for their pet. On top of the money paid for the tutus, Phelps said about $200 had been donated.

Phelps, who came up with the idea, said she often tries to think of fundraising ideas to help the shelter with its expenses. She hopes to hold another Tutus for Teeth event in the spring.

Multiple tutus of different sizes and colors awaited people at a table inside the shelter. Phelps even used her own dogs, one big and one small, to “model” the different sizes available.

The WCHS also hopes to raise more money for the dental fund at its annual Fur Ball and Yappy Hour at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories event center.

Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to akuipers@dnews.com.

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