September 20, 2006

It's A Dog's Life

Lions and bikers and flappers, oh my! Vampires, Santa Claws and a Greek god, too. No, it wasn't a sneak peak at must-have Halloween wear, and the costumed guests weren't kids dressed up for trick or treating.

Instead, the feted models at Sunday's second annual RSVP, Inc. Pet Fashion Show, held at Starr Boggs in Westhampton Beach, were four-footed and furry — a veritable bevy of beloved canines who took to the catwalk for their close-ups.

The event was organized by RSVP, Inc. co-founders Deborah Benjamin and Michelle Watton, Frank Mosca, RSVP, Inc. president and The Indy's Indy Shrink columnist, and his wife, Linda; ringmaster for the fashion show was Leni Goldsmith.

RSVP, Inc., or Responsible Solutions for Valued Pets, is a proactive animal welfare organization dedicated to saving lives of unwanted companion animals. Founded in 1996, RSVP, Inc. is celebrating its tenth anniversary of commitment to ending euthanasia of unwanted pets as a means of controlling animal overpopulation.

The organization, which has no shelter, has been dubbed a "shelter without walls," that focuses on eliminating the causes of overpopulation rather than just treating the symptoms. Spaying and neutering, say RSVP volunteers, is the first step toward a solution.

As each of 32 pets paraded down the runway, their stories were both heartbreaking and hilarious. Celebrity model John Roland, although walking a pit bull named Crunch, said he dedicated his participation in the day's event "in memory of Casey," his beloved yellow lab who died earlier this year. Roland, who has been active in RSVP for years, was the first contributor to the organization.

Pat Lynch brought Mr. Ben, a 19-year-old terrier mix who was slated for euthanasia by the Town of Southampton before being saved. "He had two hours to live," she said. After his rescue, Mr. Ben went on to live a long, dedicated life as a therapy dog for Lynch's mother.

Phia Billman brought Travis, a dog who was poisoned after drinking antifreeze and has two years to live.

"Not every dog is easily adoptable; it might be ill, have defects, or just be old," said Mosca. "RSVP provides a safety net so these dogs, who have been filtered out of the selection and left to be lost, are not lost."

RSVP, he added, has rescued hundreds of dogs, but in order to continue, assistance is needed. "We need your help," he said. Call 728-3524 for more information.

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