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23n1leupp-2 Staci Leupp walks Monty down the runway  during ‘Puttin’ on the Glitz for Cutie and the Pits’ on Saturday at Central Park West in Sylvania Township. All of the dogs were available for adoption.
Staci Leupp walks Monty down the runway during ‘Puttin’ on the Glitz for Cutie and the Pits’ on Saturday at Central Park West in Sylvania Township. All of the dogs were available for adoption.
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Published: Sunday, 2/23/2014 - Updated: 5 months ago

Canines hit the runway to raise funds for Cutie and the Pit Crew

BY ALEXANDRA MESTER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Cutie is decked out for the fund-raiser. Proceeds from the event will help pay veterinary bills. Cutie is decked out for the fund-raiser. Proceeds from the event will help pay veterinary bills.
THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Buy This Photo

With the audience cooing appreciatively, 10 rescue dogs strutted their stuff on the runway at Central Park West in Sylvania Township for Puttin’ on the Glitz for Cutie and the Pits, a canine fashion show.

Organized by the Lucas County Pit Crew, the event Saturday evening included the fashion show, music, and a silent auction. It raised funding to help pay veterinary expenses for the “pit bull” rescue and for Cutie’s Fund, a special pool of money earmarked for helping dogs that come into the Lucas County Canine Care & Control with high-cost medical needs. The proceeds will be split evenly between the two organizations.

“Since we partner a lot with [the county shelter] and we take a lot of dogs that are helped by Cutie’s Fund, we wanted to do something that would help both our organizations,” Jean Keating, executive director of the Pit Crew, said.

PHOTO GALLERY: Puttin' on the Glitz

Donations to Cutie’s Fund, which are tax-deductible, may be made in person or mailed to Lucas County Canine Care & Control, 410 S. Erie St., Toledo, 43604, or made at lucascountydogs.com/donate/cuties-fund/. Checks should be made payable to Lucas County Canine Care & Control with “Cutie’s Fund” specified on the memo line.

Ms. Keating said the Pit Crew has incurred high vet bills lately for a number of dogs in the group’s foster homes.

“We’re drowning a little in vet bills,” she said.

Cutie’s Fund, which has raised more than $59,000 since its November, 2012, inception, has dwindled down. It has about $7,000 in its coffers with about $6,000 in outstanding bills for dogs who recently needed medical care.

“Any donation to Cutie’s Fund, whether it’s through a fund-raiser or a private donor, we certainly welcome it," Julie Lyle, director of the county shelter, said.

The idea for the event was first discussed last summer. Ms. Keating said the organization began collecting donations for the silent auction in September and has spent the last several weeks making each outfit by hand. Each dog had five costume changes. “We may have gotten a little carried away,” she said. “It’s very labor-intensive.”

Christina Busuttil, a Pit Crew volunteer, was one of two writers who crafted the night’s runway script. She said she tried to create characters for each outfit.

The show featured several categories of outfits, including formal wear with a bride and groom, sports and leisure outfits, jungle-themed costumes, and beachwear with a “Baywatch” narrative.

“We wanted them to come alive,” Ms. Busuttil said. “It was fun getting creative.”

Because the show featured dogs up for adoption, the organizers had to find new dogs to take the place of others who found permanent homes before the show.

“We don’t have understudies,” Ms. Keating said. “We have a few cross-dressers in our groups because a lot of the female dogs got adopted.”

Isabelle Nilsson, left, walks Billy Elliot and Dana Ward walks Georgia down the runway during ‘Puttin' on the Glitz for Cutie and the Pits’ at Central Park West in Sylvania Township. Isabelle Nilsson, left, walks Billy Elliot and Dana Ward walks Georgia down the runway during ‘Puttin' on the Glitz for Cutie and the Pits’ at Central Park West in Sylvania Township.
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While seven of the dogs that pranced down the runway were from the Pit Crew, three dogs came from the county shelter. Ms. Lyle said the shelter was careful about which dogs were selected to be a part of the event.

“We have to make sure they’re not going to be super stressed by being around other dogs, in a new place, in clothes,” she said. “We’ve had a few practices with the volunteers who are going to be a part of it.”

The Pit Crew has also held several rehearsals for its dogs to get them accustomed to their outfits, costume changes, and crowds.

“There was a lot of flopping at practice,” Ms. Keating said.“Seeing other dogs in costume can really get dogs excited, and then when the costume changes, they’re a whole new dog again. And sometimes being in a costume yourself gets them worked up as well.”

There were only a few missteps and costume malfunctions for the dogs. One dog took a slight tumble off the stage to meet a human friend, another briefly got stage fright, and a third seemed perplexed by his orange floral swim trunks.

“All the dogs did really well,” Ms. Keating said. “A lot of them did better here than in practice.”

Ron and Cindy Fogler of Toledo attended the show as self-proclaimed animal lovers.

“I’ve not seen something like this before,” Mrs. Fogler said. “That was a selling point. It’s absolutely amazing.”

The amount raised by the event was not available late Saturday.

Ms. Keating said the Pit Crew does not plan to make Puttin’ on the Glitz an annual event because of the labor involved and the number of volunteers required. “I’m sure we will repeat it at some point,” she said.

Contact Alexandra Mester: amester@theblade.com, 419-724-6066, or on Twitter @AlexMesterBlade.



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