Mudder trains to help Cutie’s Fund

Toledo resident Omar Smiley runs with one-year-old pit-bull shepherd mix 'Cotter' at the Lucas County Dog Warden.
Toledo resident Omar Smiley runs with one-year-old pit-bull shepherd mix 'Cotter' at the Lucas County Dog Warden.

Donations to Cutie’s Fund, a program to help dogs that come into the pound with high-cost medical needs, have topped $40,000 since its inception six months ago and are likely to grow even more in June with the help of a matching fund challenge offered by a dog warden volunteer.

Omar Smiley, who has helped walk dogs at the pound for about 18 months, is participating in the Tough Mudder competition on June 29 at the Michigan International Speedway. Tough Mudder is a nationwide endurance event series in which participants attempt a 10 to 12-mile military-style obstacle course.

Mr. Smiley is soliciting pledges for Cutie’s Fund and so far has raised $550. A private donor will match funds up to $1,000. If donations are received in excess of $1,500, Mr. Smiley said he will match up to $300 personally, to bring the total to $1,800. The fund-raiser is called “Tough Cutie” and has its own Facebook page.

“All dogs deserve a fighting chance to overcome their illnesses and injuries, even if they don’t have a place and family to call home,” Mr. Smiley said.

Mr. Smiley began volunteering at the pound after he adopted his first dog, a 10-year-old yellow Labrador retriever named Bailey.

“I ran the Urbanathlon last October as a test for a future Tough Mudder,” he said. “When I heard about the starting of Cutie’s Fund last fall, I thought that running the Tough Mudder would be a good opportunity for me to raise money for such a great cause.”

The dog warden’s office started the fund-raising effort Nov. 28 for Cutie’s Fund. The fund has been helping dogs such as its namesake, a Chihuahua brought in during the middle of the night with a dead puppy lodged in its birth canal. The emergency-care bill for Cutie was more than $1,400.

The first $5,000 in public donations was matched by Block Communications Inc., parent company of The Blade. The fund was seeded with a $5,000 donation from John Robinson Block, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Blade, and Allan Block, chairman of BCI.

By contributing to Cutie’s Fund, animal lovers can make tax-deductible gifts to help with emergency and life-saving care and for the hospitalization of sick, injured, or mistreated dogs assisted by the dog warden’s office.

To be considered for the matching funds, donations can be made in several ways.

Donations can be sent via PayPal to If donating by check, it can be made out to “Lucas County Dog Warden — Cutie’s Fund” and write in the memo line: “Tough Cutie.” Donors may send it either to Mr. Smiley’s address, 2635 Joelle Dr., Toledo, OH 43617, or straight to the Lucas County Dog Warden, 410 S. Erie St., Toledo, OH 43604.

For donating by credit card, visit and click on the donate button. After donating, please email to indicate the amount of contribution.

Mr. Smiley is borrowing a GoPro Hero 2 camcorder and recording the run from a first-person perspective. Afterward, he will share the video with everyone who donates.

So far, Cutie’s Fund has helped 13 dogs, and two more are scheduled for surgeries, Lucas County Dog Warden Julie Lyle said. Injuries treated include “lots of broken legs, a broken jaw, several eye removals, a parvo case, a broken pelvis, and a dying puppy of unknown causes.”

Different veterinarians have taken cases. “We originally sent out letters asking for interest and quotes on some example cases when we started Cutie’s Fund,” Ms. Lyle said. “Emergent cases are treated at the emergency clinic. Orthopedic cases are usually sent to West Suburban [Animal Hospital] as they are the ‘go-to’ folks for most orthopedic issues.”

Other cases have been spread around to other interested clinics that can fit the dogs in quickly and who are able to work around specific issues as far as drop-off and pickup times.

The dog warden employees are excited about Mr. Smiley’s fund-raiser.

“We are so thrilled to have Omar as a volunteer and I am proud of his efforts in the upcoming Tough Mudder,” Ms. Lyle said. “What a thoughtful thing to do to raise funds and dedicate them to help injured animals.”

Contact Tanya Irwin at: or 419-724-6066, or on Twitter at @TanyaIrwin.