Furry And Fashionable

Gianna Volpe
NFAWL kennel manager Gina Lepine with possible runway model Tigger, a Pomeranian Sheltie mix from Riverhead Animal Shelter.

Grab your kids, your wallet, and your well-behaved pet because your family and furry, as well as feathered, friends are all invited to attend this weekend’s season kick-off event raising awareness for homeless animals seeking forever homes on the East End.

On May 18, the North Fork Animal Welfare League will hold its first annual Furry Fashion Show from noon until 4 PM at private estate gardens in Cutchogue. NFAWL is inviting all well-behaved pet-friendly animals to be in the audience for the fashion show while runway-ready pets strut their stuff for awards and prizes in categories such as creativity, pet-person look-alike, and most flamboyant costume, all while humans participate in a luncheon with ice cream, pet-themed vendors, and a Chinese auction with items from local wineries, cafes, and shops, as well as works of art donated by the Old Town Arts & Crafts Guild in Cutchogue.

And it won’t just be dogs hitting the runway either. The show is open to all types of socialized animals, including miniature horses, donkeys, and possibly a parrot or two. “We’re looking forward to a really fun day for everyone — whether they’re watching or participating in the show,” said NFAWL’s executive director Gillian Wood Pultz. “We’ve invited our volunteers to walk NFAWL’s rescue dogs to help promote adoptions, and we reached out to our East End animal shelter partners to invite them to be part of the show to expand their adoptable animals’ exposure, further promoting the concept of adoption as the best way to get a companion animal.”

A sustainable event, the Furry Fashion Show will feature non-plastic recyclable materials, as well as one very important item in all attendee goodie bags that will help reduce the number of unwanted animals that are born in the region; all who attend will receive a free spay/neuter voucher from NFAWL. Feeding homeless animals is second to spaying and neutering them, as domesticated animals born in the wild often succumb to starvation and predation, as well as add to the area’s number of unwanted pets.

“It’s all about keeping our eye on the prize and the prize is no more homeless pets,” said NFAWL’s manager of development, Denise LeBeau, who added funds raised at the season kick-off event will help purchase pet food and other needed items, bring Riverhead’s new shelter up to code, as well as benefit shelter programming like the safe keep program.

“If someone loses their home or something happens where the people can’t keep their dog or cat for a certain amount of time, the League will take in the animal and give it shelter without any cost to the owner,” said LeBeau, who credits such programming to Wood Pultz, whom she called a “next level animal-welfare visionary.”

At press time, Wood Pultz was in Puerto Rico after teaming up with Kent Animal Shelter, the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation, and the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons to save homeless dogs from the streets of Puerto Rico.

The first annual Furry Fashion show takes place at 26850 Main Road from noon until 4 PM on Saturday, May 18. Tickets on Eventbrite cost $50 for adults, $25 for children ages five to 15, and is free for kids under five.

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