It was the biggest Fur Ball ever.

Five hundred animal lovers attended the annual Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland event on June 15 at Aura, a larger venue than in previous years, raising a whopping $140,000.

“This is our biggest annual fundraiser, supporting the more than 5,000 animals we care for every year,” said event coordinator Sara Levesque.

Guests sipped a specialty cocktail called the Tail Wagger, bid on silent and live auction items and, in many cases, showed off photos of their pets on their phones.

“Instead of name tags, everyone should have a picture of an animal,” joked Emma Dunham of The Dog Wash Etc.

“It’s a really fun event,” said volunteer cat greeter Jenna Goldstein-Walsh of Portland. “I got both my cats from the ARLGP, and I like to give back and help as many animals as I can.”

“I saw this event on Facebook,” said cat lover Jessica Tanguay of Lewiston, wearing a ball gown that showed off her cats’ pawprints tattooed on her arm. “I’m a huge animal lover, and I like to get fancy.”

Past Fur Balls helped fund the Arthur P. Girard Adoption Center, the 25,000-square-foot shelter that opened in 2016 and, in many ways, impacts the health of pets and people in our community.

“We’re changing the face of sheltering,” said board president Kevin Mahoney, one of 300 regular volunteers.

This year’s Fur Ball highlighted the Animal Refuge League’s transport program. In 2017, the ARL worked with more than 60 rescue and shelter partners from across the country. Through a network of collaboration, the Westbrook shelter welcomed more than 2,000 animals, the majority of them dogs and cats coming from places outside of Maine – from New York to Georgia to Puerto Rico.

“At the ARLGP, we are redefining what it means to save lives,” said Executive Director Patsy Murphy. “We are the safety net for animals who have no other option. We’ll help as many as we can, as quickly as we can.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and editor based in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

[email protected]

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