More than 200 dogs and almost a thousand humans attended the 16th annual PAWS Chicago Fur Ball on Nov. 17 to support an important charity in the city that once euthanized almost 50,000 dogs and cats a year in the city pound.
The elegant black tie gala raised more than $1.3 million to support the critical work of PAWS Chicago, which was founded by Paula Fasseas (Photo above in yellow) almost two decades ago after she and her family adopted a stray dog that appeared out of nowhere during a family vacation on the island of Crete.
“We were visiting Crete– it was after my father had passed away and we wanted to pay tribute to his heritage and share it with the children and out of nowhere, this gorgeous animal appeared and began following us everywhere,” Fasseas said during a phone call.
She laughed, continuing”I swear he resembled my father in so many ways– his mannerisms, his look.”
They named the little white terrier Pippen and fell in love immediately, returning to their native Chicago and getting more involved in the animal rights movement when daughter Alexis, who was in high school at the time, volunteered at the city pound and learned the fate of tens of thousands of helpless animals.
Like most American cities, strays that are picked up on streets or turned in by families are usually gassed to death if they can’t be adopted.
Today, PAWS Chicago is one of the nation’s largest “no-kill” shelters and has chipped away at the city’s animal overpopulation problem with education programs, as well as low or no-cost spaying and neutering for underprivileged populations.
Although not completely “no-kill” yet, thanks to PAWS Chicago’s efforts, the numbers have been reduced drastically to just over 10,000 animals euthanized annually.
PAWS Chicago volunteers have also traveled into the eye of storms– literally– rescuing animals that were displaced during tornadoes or storms throughout the United States. Their efforts after Hurricane Katrina to rescue hundreds of dogs and cats received international news coverage.
Most recently, volunteers traveled to Houston to help empty flooded shelters and bring dozens of dogs and cats to Chicago for medical treatment and eventual adoption into loving homes.
At the 16th annual PAWS Chicago Fur Ball, guests were treated to entertainment while their dogs got the royal treatment at a doggie spa that was set up in an adjacent ballroom. Many of the guests dressed their pets in festive outfits.
And to think– this all started with a little stray dog from Crete.
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