Valerie Villa, owner of Images by Valerie Photography, finished up months of hard work with a $1,261 donation to benefit the cats and dogs of Santa Barbara Humane.
Ms. Villa raised the money during her second annual fundraiser. She started her Pooch Playoffs benefit after she learned about a group of photographers who hosted their own playoffs on a nationwide scale last year. She then mimicked the event in Santa Barbara County to support Santa Barbara Humane.
“In the Pooch Playoffs competition model, Villa photographed 16 local dogs, donated their entry fees to Santa Barbara Humane and organized an online bracket to determine the ‘ulti-mutt cutie’ in Santa Barbara County based on their selected pet portraits,” according to a news release.
More than 1,300 votes were cast over the course of two weeks on the website Images by Valerie to select the cutest dog. Asher, a three-year-old terrier mix owned by the Luikart family, won the competition.
Pet House, Blenders in the Grass, Santa Barbara Coastal Candles, Scarlett Begonia and Target Santa Barbara were among the local companies that stepped in to help Ms. Villa create swag bags for Asher and the other top-placing dogs in the Pooch Playoffs. All participants received a monthly planner designed by Ms. Villa, featuring images of the 2021 Pooch Playoffs participants.
Ms. Villa entered Asher into an international competition of 28 dogs from Pooch Playoffs around the globe with 4,628 votes cast. Overall, photographers raised $43,568 for their respective animal charities.
“We were able to come together in a fun way that everyone could enjoy and help support dogs in need locally. It’s amazing how we can change so much in our community if we all work together, and this is truly one of those moments I am proud to be a part of,” said Ms. Villa.
Santa Barbara Humane expressed its thanks to Ms. Villa.
“We are so incredibly grateful to Valerie for all her hard work in creating and running the Pooch Playoffs,” Santa Barbara Humane CEO Kerri Burns said. “Her donation will make such a big difference in the lives of the animals at Santa Barbara Humane.”