Shelter Mascot Dies at 15

Shelter Mascot Dies at 15

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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Ralph, longtime mascot and spokesdog for the Utah County Animal Shelter, has died at 15.

The purebred collie, who met hundreds of school in a lifetime spent visiting schools, was euthanized Thursday due to kidney failure.

Ralph was found by a sheriff's deputy when he was just 10 weeks old.

He was named Ralph because when he was put in the deputy's back seat, he threw up, apparently because he had been given too many hot dogs before he was abandoned, said Amber Stochlia, animal attendant at the shelter.

Ralph traveled to schools to help with educational presentations for the shelter, Stochlia said. His tricks, such as speaking on command and playing dead, would entertain the children and at the same time show them that dogs from the animal shelter can be great pets, Stochlia said.

"Somebody going and just standing and talking in front of kids could get really boring, but taking Ralph -- kids just loved him," she said.

On the weekends Ralph would go home with different shelter employees.

When Ralph became too old to travel from school to school, Lt. Grant Ferre, former director of the shelter, let Ralph come live with him permanently. Ralph would come back and visit the shelter often.

Ferre said Ralph was just a great dog.

"Because he grew up in the shelter, he didn't fight or bite or growl -- he was very good with people," Ferre said.

Ferre said there are no plans to make another dog the shelter's mascot.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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