If you are an animal lover, or know one, you can now put in your order for the ARC 2013 Calendar.
It is a great holiday gift at only $12, to help Lee County's largest no-kill shelter now in incredible need.
The Animal Refuge Center can use every dollar donated as soon as possible due to a recent influx of abandoned and/or abused animals. Officials are hoping to quickly include sales from their new calendar, which features photos of the cutest of the cutest local pets from all over Southwest Florida.
The 2013 calendar is now on sale, and early sales will benefit ARC in this crunch time.
With an outstanding number of online votes, the winner was Chewie with 1,737 votes.
"Chewie or Chewbacca is a Pomeranian-Yorkie mix, the cutest little thing," said calendar coordinator and volunteer Tracey Hendershott.
Each year, pet lovers submit their favorite photos for an online event that results in a full calendar, with sales to benefit ARC.
"Chewie's photo was entitled 'Red, White and Blue' because he was shown with an American flag. He has his own Facebook page. His owner is Gigi Zheng of Fort Myers. He's a superstar."
Orders for the 2013 ARC Calendar are now available.
The ARC calendar is an incredibly popular item, especially this year with proof of voting online for the 12 "cover pets."
"We've had more votes than we have ever had," said ARC treasurer and board member Betty Hughes.
She also noted a great gesture by one of the winners.
They each get a professional pet portrait to be used in the calender by North Fort Myers SandBar Photography.
"One camera-shy cat had his owner (owner Lori Ditmar) donate their winning shot to Phoenix, a special ARC resident."
"You may remember Phoenix, who made all the local news after being found in a sugarcane field starving to death several months ago. He was adopted by ARC, and is now a very happy, healthy dog," said Hughes. "He now has his own Facebook Page," which she ghost-writes for him each day. "If I miss it, people email in droves saying, 'Phoenix - where are you?'"
He is now up to his normal weight, Hughes reports, and tested negative for heart worms, which was a big concern.
"He has over 1,100 friends on Facebook."
SandBar Photography and Cape Coral's Arthur Printing are major contributors to the calendar cause and Home-Tech of Fort Myers was also a major sponsor. Hendershott works for that company, along with her volunteerism for ARC.
"We sponsored the pull-out collage of all of the entries."
It will make a great Christmas gift, both said.
"Go to our website or Facebook page to order, or for more information, you can call me at 470-4637, rather than the shelter," Hendershott said. (She serves as corporate service director at Home-Tech and as ARC board secretary.)
Winners received a free photo session, gift baskets from PETCO and different gift certificates, and, of course, a free calendar.
It was an incredible successful venture for the welfare agency.
"Completely successful," said Hendershott. "We has a lot more cat entries and winners of the feline persuasion, and a lot more submissions, 78 , and a lot more votes than we have had in past."
Incorporated in 1988, Animal Refuge Center is a not-for-profit animal welfare society, dedicated to caring for all homeless animals brought to its care at its 22-acre sanctuary in North Fort Myers. The sanctuary houses a Welcome Center, Canine Training Center, 12 feline facilities, 39 canine lodges and is home to more than 500 cats and dogs.
For more information visit AnimalRefuge.com.