Animals are in the limelight at Cause for Paws

VERO BEACH — Now in its 27th year, Cause for Paws, to benefit the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County, is a massive undertaking, requiring months of preparation by compassionate volunteers and staff.  All that work ultimately culminates in a two-evening shopping extravaganza par excellence.

As a touching reminder of the need for the fundraiser, arriving guests are always greeted by loveable dogs with soulful eyes and wagging tails and kitties looking endearingly cute, each hoping to find a forever home by the end of the evening. This year’s Cause for Paws once again began with a Preview Party at the elegant Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club, giving sponsors and top dogs the first opportunity to purchase a choice assortment of auction treasures. The special Preview Party had been generously underwritten by Sally Anderson, Jo Ann Becker, Sandy Crowell, Betsy Forrester, Ginny Schwerin, Jean Shropshire and Maria Whittle.

It was a perfect night for the seaside party, and guests happily wandered throughout the club, perusing both the auction items and the extensive hors d’oeuvre buffets.  Various food stations had been set up, offering a selection of made to order pasta dishes, Asian appetizers, an antipasto table and a carving station in the main room, and a tableful of truffles and luscious bite sized desserts in the lobby.

When asked about her shopping strategy, Anita Astrachan said she likes to scan the room to see if items grab her attention but generally bids on services she uses, such as veterinary care for her four toy poodles.

“Of course, I believe in the animals,” said Astrachan.  “Humane Societies were my husband’s favorite charities; when he died I continued supporting them.”

“I always like contributing to this wonderful cause,” said Nicholas Adams.  “There are some very unique things here and it’s fun.  I think it’s one of the finest in Vero Beach.”

As always, the stars of the evening were the animals. At the Preview Party, staff had brought four small dogs, and three cats and once their official greeting duties were complete, the dogs joined guests on the veranda.

“She’s not allowed to have any more,” said Kendra Haines of her friend Susan Dayton, who was attracted to Freckles, an adorable who-knows-what-type cutie.

Although he was hard to resist, Dayton admitted she already has four dogs and four cats, including Bentley, a 17-year old “faux” Wheaten terrier adopted from the shelter.

By the end of the Preview Party, two of the dogs had been adopted and the other two had possible new homes.

Sally Edwards, the Cause for Paws Best in Show sponsor, was hoping her dog would get along well with Lucky, one of the terriers she hoped to adopt.   When we met up again at the Saturday evening Main Auction, Edwards was pleased to report the encounter was a success.

“Lucky is going to be very lucky,” said her friend Pam MacDonald.  “This dog is going to win the dog lottery, with homes in the Hamptons, Park Avenue and John’s Island.”

“I think this is the best one yet,” said Chalmers Morse, Executive Director of the Preview Party. “I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews.”

At Saturday night’s event at the Vero Beach Museum of Art, guests were greeted by a stunning Gordon Setter/Golden mix, a terrier just itching to play, a handsome young hound, a mother and son pair of dachshunds, and an older Catahoula mix, all happily accepting pats and ear rubs.

Cornelia Perez, the event’s guiding force since its inception, and an enthusiastic committee of volunteers had amassed a particularly impressive number of silent and live auction items.  Approximately 600 items awaited the savvy shoppers, from fine art, trips, jewelry, antiques and collectibles to gift certificates for virtually everything imaginable.

A good number of those in attendance have shelter animals at home, including Warren Schwerin who was proudly showing photos of his two little terriers to Jane and Dan Garr.

“Zoe had been adopted and returned to the shelter two times. Grover was found in a grove with a broken leg and staff at the shelter nursed him back to health,” said Schwerin.

He pointed to Grover’s unruly coiffure and added with a laugh, “He has a bad hair day every day of his life.”

With a strategy Dick Pippert referred to as the “hover effect,” many were strategically guarding the bid sheets, hoping to discourage others from upping their ante.  When the silent auction closed, Gary Farless presided over the live auction, which included fabulous trips, wines, artwork and jewelry.

But high bidders or not, they all left with the knowledge that they had helped in some small way to provide care and shelter for more than 7,000 lost, homeless, neglected and abused animals that arrive at the shelter each year. {igallery 360}

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