Photo credit: Erin Cooper Photography

With traditional fundraising events cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and four times as many pets rescued between mid-March and the end of April, the team at Vegas Pet Rescue Project was forced to get creative in order to care for their foster animals and make up for thousands of dollars in lost funding. It was at this point that the VPRP team approached us about partnering with them in a fundraising effort that would marry our love of wine with their love of helping animals. 

The artistic flare of Leroy the pig, one of their recent rescues, proved to be the spark needed to engage with the local community and light the path toward successful, virtual fundraising efforts. We took Leroy’s completed paintings and based wine pairings for each individual work of art on the colors used and the overall imagery and tone of the piece. One of our favorites was an Orange/Red painting, reminiscent of rustic Italian cuisine, paired with Banfi’s Aska Red Blend. Both present earthy undertones and classic, Old World charm. 

Throughout the process, we spoke with Jamie Gregory, President and Founder of VPRP, and Jasmin Keith, VPRP’s Cat Coordinator and Leroy’s current foster parent, about their organization and how pairing Leroy’s snout art with wine became a local sensation and viable source of funding. 

How and when did Vegas Pet Rescue Project begin?

VPRP started in December 2017, although I had been volunteering for other rescues and helping to find foster homes for rescued dogs for about 5 years before that. I found myself so involved and passionate about rescue that I decided to start one as soon as I graduated with my nursing degree. I found such satisfaction with each pet I helped find a home or medical treatment for and I was hooked. Pets are such amazing companions with unconditional love to give and they need us to be their voice.

How many pigs has your team fostered or adopted over the years?

Rescuing pigs is brand new to us. We started with Leroy about three months ago and then rescued a female named Applesauce. She went directly into a foster-to-adopt home, so that was amazing. Leroy has been so much fun to have in rescue and we are definitely open to continue helping piggies. 

People don't understand when they purchase or take in a pig that it will get huge! They continue growing until around five years of age and can become upwards of 200 pounds. They also require a ton of mental stimulation to thrive.

How did Leroy first come to Vegas Pet Rescue Project?

Leroy came into rescue as an owner surrender after a major life change. He was very loved by his last family and made a pretty smooth transition into foster care, especially considering he wasn’t neutered yet. 

COVID-19 aside, what would your vision be of the perfect Snout Art & Wine Auction?

Before the virus, we talked about hosting a fundraiser at 18bin, which is in the Arts District and has a huge outdoor space, to hold some rescued pets, namely Leroy. We thought about incorporating his live art creations and auctioning them off. Since wine makes everything better, we think the pairing of the paintings and wines would be even more amazing in person than it has been virtually. Involving wine tastings would be a fun element to add in as well.

Why do you think art and wine pairings work so well?

I think it is a fun and relaxing way to be entertained while socializing and being able to take a piece of art home to display is an added bonus! 

How and when did you first determine that Leroy had artistic abilities?

I had seen snout art before and was excited about it, so I figured I’d try it with Leroy to see if he liked it. Pigs are very smart and need a lot of enrichment and I figured it was a good bonding tool as well.

How many paintings does Leroy typically complete in one session?

He typically does three to five before he walks away to go root around in the yard.

What would you say is Leroy’s favorite brand or type of paint to work with?

He really likes Supernatural brand of powdered food coloring. It doesn't contain anything artificial and is plant based. He definitely has a preference.

What do you think inspires Leroy to complete his works of art?

Honestly, it might be the level of red coloring. He seems to prefer working with that color and takes less time on blues, yellows, etc.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve discovered you love about Leroy?

His hooves. They are soft like dog paw pads on the underside and I just think that’s so surprisingly cute for some reason. He really is just a puppy in pig’s clothing.

What was some of the feedback from The Nose Knows: Virtual Snout Art & Wine Auction on May 3rd?

Everyone was very excited! Having the wine pairings added to the art pieces brought a whole new flare and the bidding was certainly higher because of it! We even had people reaching out to request commissioned pieces outside of the auction. Leroy is a star and people really like that the donations go straight back into saving more babies.

For more information about Vegas Pet Rescue Project or to get involved, visit vegaspetrescueproject.com