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Dog’s Paintings Raise $4K for Va. Animal Shelter

Clear the Shelters

An up-and-coming four-legged artist in Virginia has raised $4,000 for the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. Under the nickname “Ricasso,” the precocious 6-year-old Staffordshire terrier sold nearly 20 pieces in his debut collection.

“Ricasso,” whose real name is Rico, had been living at the shelter for almost a year before the volunteers discovered his talent. After they noticed how much Rico liked to wag his tail, shelter workers decided to give the terrier paint to dip his tail in before spreading it across a canvas.

Ricasso of the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria
Ricasso admires his work.

“When the creative spirit struck him he would really get going and do three or four pieces at a time,” said Gina Hardter, director of marketing & communications at the rescue league and a self-described “assistant” for Ricasso.

All autumn long, Rico built up his body of work to the point where he can give back to the shelter that’s hosted him all this time. His pieces fetched hundreds of dollars each when they were auctioned off at a special event Dec. 6. The rescue had decided to sell the paintings after visitors clamored to own a “Ricasso original,” according to a press release.

Ricasso’s magnum opus, “Pinny in Technicolor,” sold for $600, the highlight of the night. The multicolor portrait displays Ricasso’s muse, a blue bowling pin toy named Pinny.

Ricasso of the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria
Ricasso of the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria

Now Rico may be retiring from the art world while at the pinnacle of his career. Currently, he’s splitting time between a foster home and the “Artist’s Suite” in the shelter’s kennels. But he’s also training to get ready for a new permanent home.

“He’s learning so much every day, not just how to paint,” Hardter said. “He is really enjoying his time here.”

Rico is still available for adoption. Hardter said he’s looking for a quiet home, ideally without other dogs or young kids, where he might be able to continue his craft. An anonymous donor has allowed the shelter to waive Rico’s adoption fees.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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  • Towels and blankets - Shelters are often cold and animals like to have a blanket to curl up on. Towels are a big help to dry animals off after being bathed or if they come in wet. Towels can also be used to line the bottoms of cages. The towels or blankets don't have to be brand new or in perfect condition. The animals won't mind, as long as they're usable.
  • Canned and Dry Food for Cats and Dogs-Healthy - Healthy pet options for nourishment
  • Kitty litter and cat boxes - Cats go to the bathroom- a lot. Shelters are constantly using bag after bag of litter. Their supply runs out fast.
  • Puppy or kitten formula and nursing bottles - Sometimes there are situations where a young puppy or kitten who is not weaned gets separated from their mother. In these situations they need puppy or kitten formula to survive.
  • Old newspaper - When you're done with your newspapers you usually just throw them away or recycle them, right? You could help animals at no cost to you if you just save up your old newspapers. Newspapers are used in the bottoms of cages. They get soiled quickly, so they're in constant demand.
  • Collars, harnesses, and leashes - Dogs who are taken out on walks need a leash and collar or harness. The shelter loses some because adopted dogs often go home with their leash or harness.
  • Grooming supplies - Grooming supplies can include shampoo, brushes, combs, haircutting scissors, etc. Dogs and cats often come in dirty or end up getting dirty. Grooming supplies can keep them fresh, clean, and adoptable.
  • Toys - You would get bored if you had to lay in a crate alone all day, wouldn't you? Animals in shelters get bored, too. It keeps the animals from being so lonely and bored and allows them to get exercise. You could go out and buy new toys, or you could donate toys your pets or children may have not gotten much use out of. It's as simple as that.
  • Crates and carriers - Animals need to be transported somehow, and the cost of multiple crates and carriers can add up quickly. You can donate ones you stopped using that are still in good condition or you could go buy one for a decent price. This helps the shelter tremendously.
  • Paper towels and cleaning supplies - There are a lot of situations that get messy, so paper towels are a big help.
  • Hand wash and hand sanitizer - People who work at shelters need to keep their hands clean for their and the animals' health.
  • Laundry detergent, fabric softener, and bleach - Towels and blankets get soiled often so the washing machines are being used a lot
  • Dog and cat beds - this can offer the animals a soft place to lay instead of a kennel or cage floor.
  • Heating pads - Many animals come in cold or are young and need warmth. Heating pads can replace a mother's warmth.
  • Copy paper and pens, pencils, post-it notes and staples - You can't forget about all the paperwork that has to be done. Donating these items makes it so the shelter doesn't have to buy them on their own.
  • Garbage bags, mops, brooms, and sponges - The shelter uses these every day and clean up supplies can get expensive.
  • Food bowls - As new animals come in, the shelter needs new places to put food. Having an adequate supply could mean life or death for an animal in a shelter.
  • Rubber and latex gloves - A lot of messy stuff happens and gloves are necessary to lessen the spread of germs.
  • Plastic shopping bags - Plastic bags can be used to clean up dog mess and to store things in.

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