By: Dale King Contributing Writer
The 15th annual Doggie & Kittie Ball, held March 19 at Boca West Country Club and sponsored by Tri County Animal Rescue, has pumped some serious dollars into TCAR’s emergency medical fund.
In fact, “it was the most successful event” in terms of money raised for critical care of sick and injured animals, said Sharon DiPietro, the event chairwoman and chair of the rescue organization’s board of directors. Honorary chairs for the evening were Gregory Fried, Mayor Susan Haynie, Jan Savarick, Heather Shaw and Mary Wong.
The annual event is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the group located in the former Boca Raton city shelter at 21287 Boca Rio Road near Florida’s Turnpike.
There’s usually a surprise turn each year. And for 2017, TCAR announced a change in the name of the event so cats are included.
The modification of the name – from “Doggie Ball” to “Doggie & Kittie Ball” – came at the behest of Ardath Rosengarden, who received the Jeannette Christos Award in recognition of her “unselfish dedication” and care for the cat and kitten community at the Tri County shelter.
She told the audience she refused to accept the award unless the name of the annual fundraiser was amended to include both dogs and cats.
DiPietro said Rosengarden has volunteered at Tri County for 10 years, always tending to the cat area. “She gives tirelessly and with a full heart,” said DiPietro.
Formerly known as the Tri County Humane Society, the agency was founded in 1997 by Suzi Goldsmith, now the executive director, and the late Jeannette Christos. It did not get a permanent home until 2001 when the Boca Raton City Council gave Tri County the go-ahead to take over operations of the city’s shelter. It continues using that facility, and is raising money to rebuild the shelter.
Set in the clubhouse at Boca West Country Club, the event kicked off with cocktails, an open bar, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction. Pre-event entertainment was provided by the group, Spechlis, and by vocalist Dawn Marie.
Masters of ceremony were Channel 25 News anchor Stephanie Berzinski and Tim “The Byrdman” Byrd.
Once visitors moved to the grand ballroom, the band, Heat Wave, entertained. Singer Vanessa Simpson provided the vocals during dinner. Later, Neil Saffer conduct a live auction.
Guest speaker, State Attorney for Palm Beach County David Aronberg, told how his office continues to work at making animal abuse incidents more serious offenses. In some areas of the state, such as North Florida, it is more difficult to tighten up on animal control regulations because of the large farming communities there.
“If I can’t do it statewide, we’ll make the laws tougher here in Palm Beach County,” he said.
Aronberg told the crowd how he and Assistant State Attorney Judy Arco filed an abuse case against Anthony Herring of Delray Beach for allegedly starved his dog, Bella, to a “skeletal” condition. He was convicted of letting a pet pit bull nearly starve to death and was sentenced to nine months in jail.
The two prosecutors wanted Herring to get a year in jail as part of a three-year probation sentence, citing the “egregious” act of depriving the dog of food and water for weeks. Arco called it one of the worst animal abuse cases in the county in recent years.
TCAR is a 100 percent no-kill, non-profit rescue center which, to date, has saved more than 53,000 animals in distress, many that would otherwise be euthanized at animal control facilities.