Not only is Bandit the “biggest cuddle bug in the world,” according to his owner Kaylee Riggi of Washington Park, the 3-year-old border collie is a calendar model.
Shelter pets are sometimes undervalued, Riggi said. But they’re lovable and “cute, and deserving of being in a calendar.”
Between July 31 and Aug. 28 this summer, people voted on their favorite pet photo, which were submitted by local pet owners for a contest fee. A total of 83 pets were entered into the contest — many of them were adopted from a shelter, like Bandit, and are now in loving homes.
Each vote cost $1, and the contest garnered 10,504 votes. Combining the proceeds from the votes and contest entry fees, $8,658.78 went to supporting the Denver Animal Shelter.
“This calendar goes a long way to raising dollars that help us care for the more than 12,000 animals that find their way to our shelter each year,” said Tammy Vigil, spokesperson for the Denver Animal Shelter. “Without these additional dollars, we could not provide the extra care and attention that these often-frightened and homeless animals deserve.”
The 13 pets with the highest number of votes won a professional photo shoot with Gaelle Pet Photography, to be featured in the 2022 calendar.
The calendar is now available for purchase. Cost is $20 or $26, depending on the wall calendar size preferred. Proceeds from the calendar sales also benefit the Denver Animal Shelter.
“There’s hundreds and hundreds of homeless animals in Denver,” Riggi said, who formerly worked and volunteered at the shelter. She heard about the contest through a friend and decided to enter Bandit. “The Denver Animal Shelter does so much good for these animals.”
The Denver Animal Shelter is an arm of Denver Animal Protection, which is a division of the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment. It is an open-admission shelter, meaning no animal will be turned away, and is dedicated to reuniting lost pets with their owners and adopting pets to loving homes, among other services to serve as a community resource.
“Every single calendar that someone buys means they are giving an abandoned animal a chance to find a home, a chance to know love and a chance to live a life of meaning and security — some for the first time ever,” Vigil said.