Nuzzles Gala helps the nonprofit rescue and treat four-legged furry friends |

Nuzzles Gala helps the nonprofit rescue and treat four-legged furry friends

Fundraiser scheduled for July 17

Nuzzles & Co. volunteer Michelle McDonald, right, weighs Goldie, a rescue cat, at the Nuzzles and Co. Rescue Ranch. The Nuzzles Gala, scheduled for July 17 at the National Ability Center, will raise money that will help the pet-rescue nonprofit’s programs that rescue, rehabilitate and place pets.
Park Record file photo

Nuzzles & Co. is wagging its tail about a great many things.

Last year, the Summit County no-kill pet rescue nonprofit reached its 30-year anniversary and celebrated another milestone by rescuing 1,600 dogs and cats throughout the state, said Executive Director Lindsay Ortega.

“We had our biggest year in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic,” Ortega said. “It was an amazing year for Nuzzles & Co. and the communities where we rescued the animals.”

This year, Nuzzles & Co.’s rescue and life-saving goal is 2,000, and that’s one of the reasons why it hosts its annual fundraiser, the Nuzzles Gala. Registration for tables and picnic seating is open at

Although the nonprofit canceled last year’s event due to COVID-19 concerns, it is bringing it back this year on July 17 at the National Ability Center, said Development Director Sarah Young.

“Since we had to cancel our gala last year, we are celebrating our 30th anniversary this year, belatedly,” Young said. “And even then, up until March we weren’t sure we were going to be able to do it this year. But with everything starting to open up, and people getting vaccinated, it’s a blessing for us to be able to come together in a safe way with likeminded people who care about animals.”

The gala will start with a cocktail hour that runs roughly from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and a plated dinner will start shortly thereafter, Young said.

The meal will be catered by Done to Your Taste, and the bar services will be handed by Top Shelf, she said.

“We are working with caterers, bartenders and NAC to follow all CDC and health department guidelines to ensure the event will be done safely,” Young said.

From there, the evening’s program will include an auction, music by DJ Dolph, a Nuzzles lounge featuring puppies that were rescued at the Four Corners area, and pet stories by various members of the community, according to Young.

“We have some pretty exciting things happening as far as auction items go,” she said. “Some of the big-ticket items include a trip to Bali, a wine tasting in Tuscany, a condo in Hawaii, and other opportunities to get people out of their houses.”

Those who can’t attend the gala will still be able to bid on the items through the website, Young said.

“We are doing a hybrid auction,” she said. “If you live out of state or can’t make it to the gala, you can bid online.”

Volunteer Robin Arnold, left, administers routine vaccinations to Sequoia, a rescue pup, as she's checked in to the Nuzzles and Co. Rescue Ranch. Last year the nonprofit, which is belatedly celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, rescued more than 1,600 dogs and cats from across the state.
Park Record file photo.

One of the highlights of the evening will the presentation of Nuzzles & Co.’s Founders Award, which is given to community members or organizations who have helped the nonprofit fulfill its mission to rescue at-risk pets and provide a nurturing and healing environment for them on their way to adoption, Young said.

“This year’s Founders Award will go to Nancy and Katherine Heigl, of the Jason Heigl Foundation, who have been very generous supporters and partners of ours for several years,” she said. “Every time we’ve needed them, they’ve stepped up to the plate to make sure no animal we come into contact with has to live in dangerous or unhealthy conditions. We wanted to recognize them for all the animals’ lives they have saved.”

In addition to the program, Snuggle Lounge, auction and dinner, the gala will feature Love Collective tables that will be set up so people can sign up to become recurring donors as part of Nuzzles & Co.’s membership campaign, according to Young.

“We will also have tables set up so people can order memory bricks and memory stones that will go into our Rainbow Bridge memorial at our rescue ranch in Browns Canyon,” she said.

This year’s fundraising goal is $260,000, said Ortega, who became the nonprofit’s executive director last year.

“We function on an annual budget of $1.8 million, and the $260,000 will help sustain existing programs, and create new programs,” she said.

Although Nuzzles & Co.’s actual 30th year anniversary was last year, she is looking forward to belatedly celebrating the milestone during the gala.

“It’s been an honor to be a part of such an amazing team of staff, volunteers and board of directors,” she said. “They have worked hard to push Nuzzles & Co. forward and further our live-saving mission throughout the state.”

Programs such as the low-cost mobile clinics, which bring pet care to underserved communities, are important, not only for the health of the pets, but also the well-being of their owners, Ortega said.

“We bring life-saving resources to those communities with a dedicated veterinary staff who work hard to provide the best care for the animals,” she said. “We provide people a way to stay connected to their animals, and to keep their animals into their homes. We always believe that we’re the place where love wins, and we want to spread that love to those communities that are less fortunate.”

Nuzzles Gala

When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday, July 17

Where: National Ability Center, 1000 Ability Way


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