Puttin' on the Ritz: Top Hats and Tails a Unique Moore County Annual Event
By Mary Elle Hunter
Special to The Pilot
An unusual red carpet pet parade begins the festivities with a flourish at Top Hat and Tails, a stylish evening benefiting the work of Animal Advocates of Moore County.
Leading off the glamorous parade of black and white dogs and cats will be dancers from the Fred Astaire Dance Studio to the strains of "Puttin' on the Ritz." All the animals and their handlers will arrive at the door of Pinehurst's Fair Barn in vintage cars, courtesy of the Antique Automobile Club of America - Sandhills Chapter.
The classy event that has drawn many pet fanciers and party-goers in past years takes place this year on Monday, Dec. 5, at the Fair Barn from 5:30 to 9 p.m.
According to Susan Vance, president of Animal Advocates (AAMC), the one animal sure to be in the parade this year is Barnabas, an all-black cat.
"Barnabas came to us as a small kitten, and Barb Shepherd, AAMC's director of operations, knew immediately that he had the even temperament to be trained to walk on a leash," Vance says. "She has worked with him for several months, taking him to AAMC public events to get him used to being around noise and lots of people.
"Barnabas is available for adoption, as are all the animals in the parade, which -showcases black and white animals that are typically the hardest to place for adoption."
Vance and Shepherd, along with publicity chair Laurie Birdsong, head up the volunteers who have been planning the evening for several months.
"Top Hat and Tails represents AAMC's biggest fundraiser, and our volunteers have invested their time and creative energies to put on a one-of-a-kind event," Birdsong says. She points out that Animal Advocates is not a shelter.
"Rather, as its name conveys, it supports the best interests of animals in need through such activities as facilitating foster care, adoption, microchipping and -emergency rescue work," Birdsong says. "The organization also has the distinction of -owning one of only two feral sanctuaries in the United States."
A good example of the emergency rescue work done by AAMC took place last spring when tornadoes caused widespread -damage in neighboring Sanford in Lee County, and in adjacent counties to the north. Animals as well as humans were severely impacted, and Shepherd was deeply involved in the rescue operations for dogs and cats.
One of Shepherd's first concerns was -getting food to animal owners who had lost practically everything in the storms, but had held on to their pets, unwilling to leave their properties and pets behind.
"It was very heartbreaking and heroic for these people," she says. "My hat is off to them."
She worked around the clock for several weeks, providing temporary shelter and foster care for dogs and cats found -wandering in the storm's aftermath.
The stars and beneficiaries of the gala Top Hat and Tails event are the animals. Special features of the evening include a Christmas Giving Tree and a silent auction with choice gift packages.
Dog and cat lovers will be tempted by the Giving Tree. It offers a chance to be a -sponsor for a rescued canine or feline whose picture has been created as an -ornament on the tree.
Bidders in the silent auction will be attracted by an assortment of golf packages, hotel accommodations for two nights, sports and theater tickets, -autographed books by New York Times best-selling authors or original artwork, including pieces by William Mangum.
Also up for bid is a family night basket of a DVD player with movies and games, or what about an in-home Italian wine dinner for eight? These are just a sampling of the great items the creative AAMC volunteers have gathered.
Fabulous food catered by Elliott's on Linden will be topped off with desserts -provided by Doodies Fairies Cupcakes 'n Moore and The Bakehouse. Complimentary wine and beer will be served.
Tickets for this year's event are $40 each and can be obtained by calling the AAMC office at (910) 944-5098 or (910) 673-2918 or by referring to the website, www.aamcnc.org.
They may be picked up in Southern Pines at The Country Bookshop, Cared for Canine and Cat and Moore Equine, or in Pinehurst at The Faded Rose and Dazzle Boutique.
Tickets are also available at Pawz Grooming and Pet Service in Aberdeen, and in West End at Sandhills Winery.
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