17th Annual Doggie, Kittie Ball Brings In $2 Million Plus For Tri-County Animal Rescue


By: Diane Feen Contributing Writer

The theme of this year’s benefit for the Tri-County Animal Rescue was Casino Saloon. And you could say it took place in the wild, wild west – in Boca, that is.

Over 500 people gathered in their finest denim, diamonds and pearls and kicked up a storm to raise funds for the new campus at the Tri-County Animal Rescue in West Boca.

There was non-stop action – from the gambling tables, dance floor and music that serenaded guests at the entry.

A chip cage was set up to purchase chips to play poker, Texas hold ‘em, blackjack and roulette. Though there were hors d’oeuvres and open bar, the action was clearly on this Vegas style verve. Slot machines, live music and dancing took up the oxygen in the room and added to the synergy of the moment.

Once the doors opened to the ballroom at Boca West Country Club it was a mad dash to your table. Live music rocked the atmosphere and a live auction took place. You could bid on a trip to Umbria, Italy for eight people in an 800-year-old stone villa or get a two-night stay in Vegas with tickets to a Lady Gaga Concert. For those who wanted to stay closer to home there was a lunch with State Attorney Dave Aronberg that included a private tour of his office and a chance to watch a criminal trial.

It doesn’t get glitzier than that – but it did. After the dinner, live music and auctions (silent auction too) there was a room filled with decadent desserts. You could say it was death by chocolate or perhaps a walk on the wild side of sugar infusion.

The dessert room flowed with chocolate fondue, molten cake with ice cream, milkshakes from heaven, mouse cakes, beignets, cupcakes, parfaits, fruit tarts and dozens of other confections.

A Red Carpet was rolled out for 10 beefy firefighters who each carried rescue pups in need of a home—two were adopted on the spot. There was a moment of celebration and exaltation when Lois Pope donated $2 million toward the new 64,000-square-foot no-kill animal rescue campus on Boca Rio Road.

“Lois you have made our vision a reality. You are the heartbeat of Tri-County Animal Rescue,” said Sharon DiPietro, the Tri-County board chair and event chair.

There was also a moment of tender elation and silent reverence for animals. While a video of dogs and their owners embraced the screen, the lyrics of Lauren Daigle’s song “Rescue” boomed outward.

Aronberg assured guests that he agrees with Daigle. “Palm Beach County had weak animal cruelty laws in the past, but that is changing. It used to be a slap on the wrist. Starting in 2019 first time offenders for animal cruelty will be eligible for a year in prison. Our pets are our angels.”

You don’t have to tell that to guest Pam Higer Polani.

“Gandhi said that, ‘The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.’ This event represented Boca’s best, joining together to encourage each of us to adopt, not shop. Such a fabulous fundraiser, it gets better every year,” she said.

This year is especially important to Tri-County Animal Rescue. They are starting phase two of the make-over for its state-of-the-art no-kill animal shelter.

“The entire event was a big success because it was a totally different approach. There was energy from the time guests walked in the door until they left. The added excitement included dancing and gaming in two rooms simultaneously. It was wonderful to have so many local politicians attend and support us,” said DiPietro.

When completed the new facility will be available to the public and include a mausoleum with serenity garden, increased in-ground burial plots, agility course, in-ground pool, boarding and grooming, as well as public spaces for education and community animal welfare training programs.

There are also naming rights available and an opportunity to donate to the cause. For more information, call 561-482-8110.