Photo wins cash prize for Dakota’s Dream
Posted: February 15, 2013
The Winchester Star
Winchester — One local cat’s evening of fun had a much bigger impact than his owners ever intended.
While entertaining their cats with bubbles, Ricky and Wendy Dunn of Frederick County snapped a photo of one of them, Diesel, enjoying playtime. In the photo, Diesel, transfixed by the bubble, is standing on his hind legs and reaching up toward it with one paw.
Highly amused, the couple shared the photograph with volunteers at Dakota’s Dream, the local animal rescue group that helped save the cat’s life two years ago.
With the Dunns’ permission, the organization entered the photo in a national online photo contest run by TheAnimalRescueSite.com, and everyone involved was overjoyed when the picture won first place in January.
“Rescues struggle with funds, so anything they got was great,” Ricky Dunn said.
First prize was $500 in cash for the rescue and a $100 gift certificate to order items from the website, said Alicia Aston, president of the nonprofit group. Even after she received the email saying the picture had won, it was still a shock to receive the check a week later.
“We couldn’t believe it. We are so thrilled,” said Aston of Winchester.
The contest ran on the website in January. Pictures of animals nationwide were submitted, and the site’s staff members picked 10 finalists. The public was then asked to vote on their favorite.
Aston was just excited to be in the top 10, but to actually be chosen and win the cash prize was a much needed help, she said.
The money automatically was put in the Ash Fund, which pays for medical care for high risk animals, said Karen Lawless, foster care coordinator for Dakota’s Dream. The fund is named for a cat she is still fostering that was in a brush fire when it was a few days old. Some people said he should be put down, but he survived and is still moving forward.
However, Ash is special needs and requires a great deal of care, she said. Animals like him are why the fund is important — to give them a chance instead of taking the automatic route of euthanasia.
“We definitely need the funds to help with veterinary care,” said Lawless of Frederick County.
In fact, the prize from the photo contest already has been spent, Aston said. It paid for a vet visit Wednesday to Colony Animal Hospital in Winchester for Delilah, a Pekinese having trouble with her back legs, and Cindy Lou, a cat found nearly starved to death who is still recovering.
The use of the funds that way is fitting since Diesel needed similar help when he was rescued, Dunn said. One of his customers found the kitten next to its mother, who had died, in the woods in western Frederick County. He was no more than 2 days old.
Dunn offered to take the cat and got him to Dakota’s Dream, who has foster families that bottle feed baby animals. After two weeks, the Dunns offered to foster him. It was supposed to be a temporary placement, but he soon was a member of the family.
“Once they get to you, you can’t let them go,” he said.
For Aston, the prize is even more special because it shows one of the rescue’s success stories living a happy, healthy life.
Besides the photo contest, Dakota’s Dream is entered into The Animal Rescue Site’s Shelter Challenge, which is giving out $100,000 in grants and prizes.
To vote for the local animal rescue, go to TheAnimalRescueSite.com and click on the “Shelter Challenge” banner.
For more information about Dakota’s Dream, call 540-323-7520 or go to dakotasdream.com.
— Contact Laura McFarland at email@example.com.