Copper Mountain to host ‘Gone to the Dogs’ canine festival next week | SummitDaily.com

Copper Mountain to host ‘Gone to the Dogs’ canine festival next week

by Sebastian Foltz

Man's best friend will be the guest of honor at Copper Mountain Resort during the inaugural Copper's Gone to the Dogs festival Saturday, June 28. The event will include a number of activities geared toward dog owners and their four-legged friends.

"We were looking for more unique festivals to host here at Copper, and this opportunity arose," said resort spokeswoman Austyn Williams. "As a dog owner myself, I'm really excited to host this event. With all the dogs in the county, it will be really exciting to see so many in one area."

The event will include 5K and 10K runs for owners and their pets, along with a vendor village with dog-related retailers and activities. Proceeds benefit the League for Animals and People of the Summit (LAPS), a Summit County nonprofit that supports assistance programs for pets and pet owners around the county. Spaying and neutering is a primary focus of the LAPS organization. In addition to providing funds to the local animal shelter, it now offers any Summit County pet owner a spay/neuter voucher for local vet clinics. LAPS also has a low-income medical assistance program that helps owners pay for expensive animal medical bills.

"They're a great local organization that I don't think a lot of people know about," Williams said. "If your dog is so smart that she decides to swallow a tennis ball they can help."

Williams' dog, Barley, recently did just that and LAPS paid about 50 percent of the cost of treatment.

LAPS is funded by grants (The Summit Foundation, Colorado Grand, Animal Assistance Foundation, El Pomar Foundation, Town of Silverthorne and more), donations from local businesses and individuals, memberships and fundraising events. Staffed completely by volunteers, 100 percent of its budget goes toward its various projects, including the spay/neuter vouchers and the medical assistance fund.

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"It's pretty exciting to have them think of us," said LAPS board member Sally Beerup. "It will make a huge difference."

In addition to the run and vendor village, the day will include demonstrations by Copper Mountain's avalanche dogs, dock jumping in West Lake and a number of other activities. Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald — known for his appearances on Animal Planet's "Emergency Vets" — will be on hand for an afternoon question-and-answer session at the Incline Bar & Grill. In addition to his television appearances, Fitzgerald has been a Denver-area veterinarian for close to 30 years and lectures at conferences on a variety of animal issues.

Breckenridge-based Snow Caps Sled Dogs owner Orion Paiement plans to demonstrate his Tug-and-Tow retractable bike leash and provide information on his summer sled dog scooter tours.

"I think it's a great idea," he said of the first-year event. "Especially in this community, dogs are regarded as a member of the family."

Paiement said he will probably have a few of his sled dogs with him but likely won't be running demonstrations.

"This year I'm going to keep it pretty simple," he said adding that he may look to expand his presence at the event in the future.

More information and run registration is available at http://www.coppercolorado.com Jessica Smith contributed to this article.

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