SHERIDAN — Sheridan Dog and Cat Shelter hosted its first-ever Canines on the Catwalk event Saturday to help find homes for its furry friends. The event showcased 16 well-known community members who volunteered to walk on the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center stage dressed in costume while walking a furry friend in hopes of sparking interest in adoption.

According to the shelter’s website, its adoption and reclaim rates are well above the national averages. The shelter employs five full-time and five part-time staff with an annual budget of $235,000.

The budget covers the cost of spaying, neutering, medicine, treatments, supplies and equipment to keep the program’s engine revving.

The fundraiser started when Haley Roberts, committee co-chairman and Jill Moriarty, committee co-chairman and executive director of the Dog and Cat Shelter saw a Facebook video of ‘Rescue the Runway,’ a fundraiser held in Brooklyn. They decided to put a spin on it and make the catwalk event even bigger than they saw online.

Mary Kay Love, Bruce Burns, Jana Davis, Liz Cassiday, Shelly Kinnison, are a few volunteers who escorted dogs.

Tickets were $75 and included two drink tickets, hors d’oeuvres from Frackelton’s Fine Food and Spirits, a Smooch Booth and a silent auction where local businesses donated a number of prizes. The Mars family donated four NASCAR pit passes and tickets to any Broncos game of your choice.

As an adopter herself, Roberts says this is a cause near and dear to her heart.

“I adopted my dog when he was 5, but just to be able to give him that second chance was amazing for me,” Roberts said. “I’d never rescued a dog before because I was always worried about their past and I didn’t know what I would be getting myself into, and now I feel like I can help others how life changing this can be, I want to do it.”

Bert Kuntz, owner of Bison Union Coffee, volunteered to emcee for the event as soon as he heard about it.

“Being in from the military I’ve learned you can judge a culture in a country by how they treat dogs,” Kuntz said. “If you sit on a street bench anywhere in Sheridan for an hour, you realize this is a pet community whether it’s people walking their dogs, ranch dogs on the back of a pickup; you see everyone bringing their best pal and that’s something I noticed immediately when we started visiting Sheridan two years ago.”

The Dog at Cat Shelter has been expanding in many ways. It started a senior dog project where the shelter pairs a senior citizen with a senior citizen pet to foster.

“It’s like an extended foster because it’s been proven that people live independently longer if they have to care for something else, so a senior dog can go to a senior and they don’t have a formal adoption,” Moriarty said.

Last year the shelter had 596 animals adopted from the shelter. In 2019 the facility received 370 more animals than the previous year.

The average cost for a dog to stay in the shelter is $52 per day.

“When your numbers increase that much, your budget goes up,” Moriarty said. “But luckily the community sees the work we do, and they’ve had our back with this project.”