Seven years ago, St. Augustine Humane Society Executive Director Carolyn Smith came up with a brilliant idea to raise money for the organization. “I wanted to create a pet calendar that was high-quality and unique,” she says, “I knew I would need a professional photographer and graphic designer. I also wanted to have a fun theme, and the goal was to do something different every year.”
The next step was to find the village. Along came photographer Addison Fitzgerald and graphic designer Maribel Angel. “I wanted to give something back to the community,” said Addison, “and I’m also a rescue pet owner, so doing this calendar was a big deal for me.”
Maribel said, “Being a big animal lover, I wanted to do something to help out an animal rescue organization. Seeing all the adorable entries is a blast.”
Past themes have included, “Classic Movie Moments” and “Hot Pets and Hunky Heroes.” This year is a “Cutest Show on Earth” carnival theme. Addison loves shooting the calendar and says his favorite part is “interacting with the pets and getting expressions out of them.” Last year for a vintage theme he sat Fletcher on top of stacked vintage suitcases, even though no one thought it would work. Addison had a split instant to get the cover shot as Fletcher jumped right at him.
Another local artist donates her time and experience for the final stage of the calendar – the printing. Kristen from Kessler Creative says, “We know the calendar is a significant source of income for the Humane Society, which makes it meaningful to us.” Kristen says, “Knowing how many little animal souls are touched day in and day out is the biggest reward of the project.”
All of the creative contributors to the calendar own rescued pets themselves – from dogs and cats to Pierre the rabbit.
In order to compete for the top spot, owners of rescued pets send in photos and receive votes. The winner gets the cover shot and a gift certificate for Columbia Restaurant. The other twelve runners-up are featured on each month of the calendar. Though anything could happen, currently a feisty little Pekingese named Liam Jewel is out in front with exactly 1000 votes (the second place is hundreds of points behind with 650!).
Right now there are 80 contestants, with dogs leading the pack with 66 entries, along with 13 cats and one bunny.
Finally, the Pin Up Paws party on December 2 at the Limelight Theater is the place to be to celebrate another successful year of calendar cuteness.