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Black Tie & Tails doubles the fun and fundraising

| Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
John Altdorfer
Paul Gitnik and Kristen Svrcek at Animal Friends' Black Tie & Tails
John Altdorfer
Event chairs Cindy Russell, Michelle Bartlett and Sarah McKean with puppy Mitchell and Woody the
John Altdorfer
Prez David Swisher and board chair Marleen Ashton with Zamboni the bunny
John Altdorfer
Howard Ash with Donna Gutierrez and Dena Ash
John Altdorfer
Suzie and Matt Lachut
John Altdorfer
Cindy and Murry Gerber

Animal Friends dove head-first into some bold new territory over the weekend of Sept. 20-21 with a two-part fundraising effort for its signature Black Tie & Tails, which enjoyed sellout status a week in advance.

Also, a first: hosting the event on the grounds of its sunny facility on Camp Horne Road in Kilbuck.

“We can't even talk ... we start to cry. For 16 years I've been board chair. To be home, to be here, is a dream come true,” shared Marleen Ashton.

First up, the Animals After Dark cocktailer on Friday, which drew a large contingent of the anything-goes crowd for a let-your-hair-down evening that drew 300-plus. Upon arrival, guests were greeted by a coterie of fuzzheads who instantly drew a collective swoon and, from there, the big brown eyes did what they do best: melted people into puddles.

A tour through the facility and greetings by the ever-faithful volunteers and staff members kept things going indoors for quite a bit, with mini-lounges encouraging some to sit and stay. As the evening progressed, the party moved outdoors, where the John Parker Band was playing under white tents and Tripp Kline — volunteer auctioneer for the past 15 years — was waiting to wean people from their wallets during a live auction that fetched $16K.

The following day, the Black Tie & Tails formal sit-down, “A Breed Apart,” honored John Weinstein and Allegheny County DA Stephen Zappala.

Another dream come true: raising a glass in celebration of the 62 acres recently acquired by the shelter, which will allow for greater expansion and services that cater to the thousands of animals in search of a forever home.

On the scene were prez David Swisher, co-chairs Michelle Bartlett, Sarah McKean, and Cindy Russell, Howard Ash (generously matching donations for the spay and neuter program up to $50K), Ralph andSharon Martin, Jen andKeith Bertetto, Mike andCathy Ginsberg, Jennie andDr. Roger Zioncheck, Lester and Virginia Hebert, Liz andMike Ginsberg, Karen Moellenberg, Laura Penrod Kronk and Clyde Kronk, Gina Carlos, Bob andJanine Fragasso, and Paul Gitnik andGene Svrcek.

Kate Benz is the social columnist for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-380-8515.

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