Local animal lovers will be coughing it up at the Pensacola Humane Society’s (PHS) fourth annual Fur Ball event on March 16. This black-tie soiree at the Pensacola Yacht Club has become one of the largest annual fundraisers for the nonprofit facility.
Founded in 1943, the PHS was initially established as a one-person operation committed “to improving the lives of companion animals.” It achieved its no-kill status in 1985. Today, the shelter has more than a dozen employees with support from nearly 200 volunteers.
Fur Ball made its debut in 2019, when the Humane Society was looking to boost revenue by hosting another major fundraising event in addition to their already well-established Barktoberfest and Paws on Palafox events.
Eloise Lautier, Secretary of the PHS Board of Directors and Fur Ball event chair, teamed up with Deborah Dunlap, Michelle Sauls, Megan Kennedy and a small committee of local volunteers and board members to organize and host the first Fur Ball event. Since its establishment, the Fur Ball has grown to become the Humane Society’s most popular annual event, with tickets selling out each year.
The inaugural Fur Ball was a huge success, with a packed house and more than $85,000 raised to benefit the PHS. Since then, that number has only increased, with a total of $125,000 raised at last year’s event.
“Fur Ball is a sell-out every year! It’s a glamorous and glitzy evening that will warm your heart,” Lautier said.
This year’s Fur Ball will be held on March 16 from 5:30 to 10 pm at the Pensacola Yacht Club located at 1897 Cyprus Street. The evening will include a gourmet dinner, music, cocktails and a series of both live and silent auctions, with the most notable being the popular “Bow Wow Wow Wow Table.” The lavishly decorated table is piled high with wrapped gifts for ten people, which is auctioned off to the highest bidder at the beginning of the evening.
“There are at least $500 worth of gifts at each place setting, making this one of the most popular auctions of the night. It’s what Fur Ball has become known for,” Lautier explained.
In addition to the gifts on the table, auction winners will also gain access to the open bar throughout the evening. The event will also feature a special Yappy Hour, in which the Humane Society will show off some of the adorable pets that are currently up for adoption.
Fur Ball guests will also enjoy a Puppy Parade that will take place inside of the event space, as well as designated time for gala guests to mingle with all of the Humane Society’s adoptable furry friends.
“The Puppy Parade features cats and dogs from PHS, which mingle with the guests during the early part of the evening. The Raise Your Paw live auction winds up the event festivities,” Lautier said.
Funds raised at the event will directly benefit the Humane Society’s animals staying in foster homes and the shelter. Adoption fees account for only a small portion of the shelter’s annual budget, and, as a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit, PHS relies heavily on grants and donations.
“All event proceeds go directly to helping the animals in our care by providing food, spay and neuter services and medical care. Adoption fees cover only a fraction of the true cost of rescuing homeless animals. PHS relies completely on grants, bequests and in-kind donations from individuals, and it receives no regular city, county, state or federal funding,” Lautier explained.
Fur Ball tickets are on sale now for $150 each and include a gourmet dinner, wine and an open bar during Yappy Hour. Event sponsorship opportunities are also available.
For tickets and more information on event sponsorship, call Eloise Lautier at (850) 450-8958 or visit the Pensacola Humane Society’s Fur Ball Facebook page. For more on upcoming events, adoptable pets and volunteer opportunities, visit pensacolahumane.org.