Fundraising: Formal dinners with pets

Posted by david on December 29th, 2010

This series of articles is from our friends at Purina and their Petcentric website.

For most nights in a formal ballroom, bringing pets would be a faux pas. But on one special night, the tables, set with fine linens, are turned. Guests who are normally shunned from such affairs, arrive with their wet noses and wagging tails, welcomed by all. And the people arrive in their tuxes and evening gowns, ready for elegant dining and a night of inspired giving.

Animal welfare organizations across the country have discovered that they can raise a heck of a lot of money by hosting an annual formal dinner fundraiser, with all the stuffiness replaced with adorableness from the presence of well-behaved pets. These events come with endearing names such as Fur Ball, Bark Ball, Bark & Whine Ball, and Pawpurrazzi.

The Jacksonville Humane Society holds a Fur Ball every year, which is always a smashing success. It is definitely their biggest annual fundraiser. Every Fur Ball has a theme and pets are encouraged to dress to the theme. The best-dressed pets are crowned King and Queen of the Ball. The human guests are treated to a gourmet dinner, while the pets have their own gourmet treat bar provided by a local dog bakery. These dog treats look so good they have to put a sign up telling human guests not to eat them.

This is a totally high-class affair, as the Jacksonville Humane Society provides Doggie Butlers to escort guests’ pets outside to do their business.

Although dogs are definitely the guests most often seen at these fundraisers, due to their highly social nature, many other animals have been known to attend. Cats attend, sometimes on a leash, sometimes in a carrier, but most often riding in style in a pet stroller. A potbellied pig and birds have also attended.

How Do Humane Society Fundraisers Mix Pets and Formal Dining?

What kind of facility would allow animals in a formal (and carpeted) ballroom? And how do dogs resist that luscious buffet table? “Sometimes a dog will get lose and run across the room and occasionally a piece of food will mysteriously disappear off a plate,” says Kristi Ballinger, Special Events Manager at the Jacksonville Humane Society, “But we’ve had our Fur Ball at the University of North Florida’s Ballroom for eight years, which is a testament to how well behaved the animals really are.”

The Washington Humane Society has held their Annual Bark Ball for over 20 years. This fundraiser has attracted celebrities and their canine friends, such as Art Buchwald, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Willard Scott, and Loretta Swit. Also, many well-connected political pets have served as Honorary Pet Chairs, such former First Cat Socks Clinton and former First Dogs Spot and Barney Bush. Sponsors are all top-notch too, such as Nestlé Purina!

The Humane Society of Greater Miami has an annual Pawpurrazzi, which is attended by celebs such as Star Jones, Judge David Young, Food Network’s Ingrid Hoffman, and many more.

Here are just a few animal welfare organizations that have annual black tie events with pets as invited guests. If you enjoy dressing up for an evening of stylish fun with your favorite people and pets, these are social events not to be missed! And the best part is, your evening of fun and generosity translate into good health and better homes for the shelter dogs and cats in your area.

Jacksonville Humane Society Fur Ball

Humane Society of Greater Miami Pawpurrazzi

Washington Humane Society Bark Balls


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