Dogs of Bark City: a fundraiser like no other

Question: When is it ok to drop upwards of $25,000 on a designer dog, only to keep him locked in the house without even so much as chew toy for company?

Answer: When the dog is fiberglass, enhanced by a local artist, and auctioned off in an event benefitting vital nonprofit groups around the community.

Dogs of Bark City, a fundraising affair like no other, kicked off last year in the canine-crazy borough of Park City, Utah.

Thirty-six artists from around the state were selected to donate their time, talent, and vision. In June, each artist was delivered a woefully under-dressed fiberglass dog–and the mission to transform it into a masterpiece. The pieces would then be put up for auction later in the year, with proceeds benefitting three local organizations: Park City Performing Arts Foundation, Friends of Animals, and Mountain Trails.

The artists went to work. In September, the finished pups were displayed in “foster homes”–stores, offices, and outdoor locations around Park City. This allowed residents to view, and subsequently fall in love with, their favorite creations. With compositions like “Laberace” and “Lipstick on a Pug,” animal and art lovers alike quickly became smitten.

On December 28, several hundred humans packed into the Park City, Utah, St. Regis Deer Crest Resort for the actual auction. When the bidding began, no one was more surprised than Cathy King, Friends of Animals Executive Director, by the level of excitement.

“We had no idea the auction would be such a success,” she said. “It’s not a great economy, and let’s face it, not everyone is dying to have a fiberglass Pug in their living room.”

As it turned, plenty of people were eager to leash up works of such unique and thoughtful artisty. With some pieces garnering a whopping $40,000, all told, over $300,000 was raised that night.

“Even though participants had a fabulous time, we’ve chosen not to make this an annual event here in Park City,” said King.

“We owe it to the art collectors, and to the artists, that the work should remain one-of-a-kind. But we’d love it if the idea catches on and is copied in other cities around the country.”

Attendee and animal welfare advocate Emily Scott Pottruck agreed that the event is one worthy of replication.

“Dogs of Bark City represented best practices in so many ways,” she said. “The collaboration and cooperation of nonprofits in a community coming together. The artists’ creativity in designing such unique works of art. Citizens rising to the occasion to fund three distinct areas in need. Truly a memorable night.”