Sep 30, 2003

Pet project rolls out the red carpet

By Kathleen Laufenberg

Dust off your dancing shoes, pet lovers, and prepare to party: The Furball is back for its fourth year, and the Tallahassee Swing Band is providing the tunes.

The bash is the Leon County Humane Society's primary moneymaker. Last year, 300 to 400 people showed up, said society president Sara Earl, and the nonprofit raked in (after expenses) $27,000. This year, members hope for an attendance of 500 and a net profit of $50,000.

"We use 100 percent of the proceeds from the Furball to help animals," Earl said.

The humane society uses the Furball bucks to pay for animal spaying, neutering and medical expenses, as well as some educational projects, Earl said.

This year's theme is "A Night at the Oscars," and guests are invited to dress any way they want, from formal wear to jeans - just as the celebs do at the Oscars. An Austin Powers look-alike will emcee the event, and a red carpet literally will be rolled out to greet partygoers, said Christie Droz Perkins, a volunteer organizer.

During the ball, you can nosh on an array of munchies, order from a cash bar and bid on goodies during the silent auction. Among the items up for grabs this year are massage certificates, jewelry, hotel getaways, dining certificates and pet portraits, Perkins said.

You'll also get a chance to watch the organization bestow its Purple Paw Awards. These are presented to people - and four-footed creatures, too, sometimes - who have made the lives of Big Bend animals better.

This year, the awards will go to:

" Otfried "Reed" Guhrt, a Tallahassee veterinarian who has volunteered both his time (after hours and otherwise) and skills (spaying and neutering, giving shots, providing emergency care) to help the humane society's foster animals (including turtles, ferrets and other exotic pets) without charge or at reduced rates.

" Matthew J. Aresco, a graduate student at Florida State University who has saved turtles and other creatures from being killed by cars on U.S. Highway 27 while trying to cross from Lake Jackson to Little Lake Jackson. Aresco installed and continues to maintain a barrier fence that diverts the animals to a culvert. For more about this compassion-in-action project and the effort under way to create a permanent ecopassage, see

" Jane Holmes-Cain, a humane society volunteer responsible for keeping countless Tallahassee dogs clean. Six years ago, Holmes-Cain became the society's official Dog Wash Coordinator, and she's been organizing dog-wash fund-raisers - and washing people's pooches - ever since.

" Steve and Ruth Ann Recla, a Tallahassee couple who rescued two abandoned, malnourished, 4-month-old pups. They used their vacation money to nurture the animals, suffering from internal injuries, back to health. "They were just little skeletons with fur," Ruth Ann said. The dogs, Jake and Cody (whose front leg was amputated) now live with the Reclas, their two cats and one other pet pooch.

" Southeast K-9 Search and Rescue, Inc., a nonprofit group of volunteers who locate missing persons and, occasionally, lost pets. The unit recently found a lost dog that had been hit by a car and wandered into the woods near its home.


The Furball

When: 7:30-10:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: FSU University Center Club, 1 Champions Way, Building B

Why: To raise money for the Leon County Humane Society

Cost: $40 single; $75 for two

Tickets: Call LCHS at 224-9193; Visa or MasterCard accepted. Pick up tickets at event, or office at 413 Timberlane Road. A few tickets may be available at door.

Contact Reporter Kathleen Laufenberg at (850) 599-2375 or