Pieces and paws

By KATE REARDON

Herald Writer

EVERETT — An orange cat sits patiently outside the doors of the Everett Animal Shelter.

Alongside is a black cat.

But there is also a turquoise dog turning up its nose to sniff a purple butterfly. Nearby a dog chases a flying disc, and a cat eyes a ball.

Each are likely to be there for a long time.

They aren’t animals who need homes. They are animals captured in sculptures by Everett artist Hai Ying Wu, who has an orange cat named Tiger.

Today, the city celebrates the 37-year-old’s artwork with a dedication at the shelter.

John DeWispelaere, manager of the shelter, said the dedication will also serve as a re-grand opening of the shelter, which opened there in 1997.

Ordinary people can also participate in decorating the building by taking part in a tile program called the Humane Walk of Fame.

Participants can purchase engraved tiles that will be placed in the shelter. Proceeds will go toward educational programs about animals.

The programs will help teach children how to care for pets. Money from the Walk of Fame will pay for videotapes, books and other materials.

"We feel it’s important," DeWispelaere said. "There have been studies that say children who abuse animals (may) grow up to abuse siblings and others."

The animal shelter art, which cost the city about $10,000, is part of a public art program required by law when the $1.2 million shelter was built. The art represents three stages in shelter animals’ lives: being lost, arriving at the shelter and finding a good home.

In real life, the nice ending doesn’t always happen.

Last year, statistics showed that the shelter killed about 57 percent of the dogs and cats brought in. The rest were adopted or returned to their owners. About 70 percent of cats and 40 percent of dogs brought to the shelter each year are put to death.

"The animal shelter is the home for lost animals," Wu said. "They’re looking for a better home sweet home."

Wu may be best known for his part in artwork in Pioneer Square memorializing the firefighters who have died in the line of duty. The memorial was erected after the infamous Pang warehouse fire in Seattle.

Wu became a professional artist in the mid-1980s in China. Later, he moved to the United States. He has created more than 10 commissioned pieces in the United States and China, including a bust of community member T. Hollister "Hol" Mabley at the Mukilteo Library.

Wu has won a handful of awards, and teaches sculpture and drawing at Gene Nastri Community School of Art in Mukilteo.

The artwork at the shelter includes a colorful bench decorated with smooth chips of marble and glass shaped into animals and highlighted with brass. The bench depicts lost, anxious cats and a dog wandering through night and day.

Above the front entry to the shelter is another aluminum sculpture decorated with cut-out animals, including a raccoon, rabbit and dog pleading for a haven or a home. And painted aluminum sculptures depict animals at play enjoying their journey’s end in a nice home with a family to love.

Wu said he hopes his art will elevate the public’s sense of responsibility toward animals and celebrate the harmony between humans and animals.

Wu and his wife Lu Sun visit the animals at the shelter frequently.

"We are passionate toward animals," he said.

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