On the heels of fashion week in New York City, a pet fashion show in Houston stole the hearts of elite animal advocates at the Feb. 10 Best Friends Brunch – a fundraiser that brought in $100,000 for AniMeals, a program of IM that feeds the pets of Meals on Wheels’ homebound seniors.
Susan Boggio, a long-time AniMeals supporter and a champion of animal welfare causes, was this year’s passionate honoree. In fact, before being honored at the masquerade-themed event at Hotel ZaZa, Boggio rushed to rescue a 9-month-old puppy that she read about on Facebook.
More than 200 attended the event, which was chaired by Brigitte Kalai and Sippi Khurana, who were joined by honorary chairs Tama Lundquist and Tena Lundquist Faust.
After a vegetarian brunch, Kalai, Lundquist and Faust all walked their dogs down a runway as television personality Casey Curry humorously personified the bios of the furry models. All 18 animals – including one super chill feline – were dressed to the nines and had the audience in stitches. Walking her mini chocolate schnauzer named “Max”, who sported a snazzy black vest, Kalai and her canine companion won top prize in the fashion show as gauged by an applause meter.
Attendees also included Katherine McNeil, Bret Baccus, Mandy Kao, Cora Sue and Harry Mach, Jay Harberg, Ellen Susman, Sidney Faust, Paula Sutton, Charlene Chuang, Shaukat Zakaria and Mrs. Texas Legacy 2018 Jennifer Hennessey, a local veterinarian.
As Boggio graciously accepted the 2018 AniMeals on Wheels Champion Award, she emphasized the need for people to extend their generosity to all creatures. “There is so much you learn from being generous,” she said. “There is so much that needs to be done. We can all give more and do more. There is someone who needs you. That’s what makes life worth living.”
Martin B. Cominsky, president and CEO for IM, reminded attendees that AniMeals was established 10 years ago after Meals on Wheels drivers saw their senior clients feed their meals to their pets, not wanting their only companions to go hungry. Ten thousand pounds of pet food each month allows more than 1,200 dogs and cats to be well fed, and new programs are transporting seniors’ pets to the vet for vaccinations, microchips, check-ups, medicine and medical procedures.
“For many, these pets are our seniors’ only companions,” said Heather Holland, AniMeals Committee chairperson. “They are their families.”
Recognizing Boggio’s tremendous support of AniMeals, Holland added, “We thank you for your donations and we thank you for your advocacy. Seniors should not have to choose who gets to eat on certain days.”
Meals on Wheels client Betty Harris, 88, brought her dog, Coco, to the event, to explain how AniMeals has helped her best friend. “I found out about AniMeals through Meals on Wheels. Not only do they feed Coco, but they give her shots, cut her claws, give her medicine, and they even give her toys,” Harris said. “It’s amazing how much they give. I can’t thank the staff and the vets enough. They are such a joy. And Coco thanks you, too!”