#Shelter Chic is a New York City based animal-focused non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping cats and dogs find loving "forever homes". On Thursday, May 11, from 8pm to 11pm Shelter Chic will host their third annual gala at the Tao Lounge in downtown Manhattan. The event will feature a silent auction that includes prizes such as tickets to the hot Broadway show "Hamilton", various sports events tickets, fitness classes, and much more. There will be music by DJ Vikas Sapra, a photo booth, and lots of food and drinks.

Shelter Chic is a fun way to promote pet adoption

The previous two events were very successful and Shelter Chic co-founder Brittany Feldman hopes this years will be even bigger.

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"Our last two events were very successful and the money we raised from them alone has enabled us to survive as a small non-profit," Brittany stated. "Needless to say, this event is extremely important to us and we have high hopes for this upcoming one. We are hoping to have some press before, during, and/or after the event to keep spreading awareness about Shelter Chic."

Brittany and her friend Amanda Folk started the charity due to her desire to start an animal rescue that promoted adoption in an upbeat and whimsical way that would appeal to people who would normally buy their pets from pet stores or breeders.

“As I emerged myself into the rescue world I noticed that the ‘sad’ advertising turned many people away from the issues at hand and tended to prolong the stereotypes associated with homeless animals and those in shelters,” Brittany explained.

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“I believe Shelter Chic can reach a wider audience and increase adoptions by using lightheartedness, positivity, and even humor.”

Mission

To date, the shelter only takes in cats and dogs and they have rescued and found forever homes for approximately 150 animals this way. The gala is simply a means of enhancing awareness and its proceeds enable the organization to survive.

“Once we received our 501c3 official nonprofit status in January 2015, we wanted to start taking in animals right away…but we needed to have sufficient funds for vet bills and be able to afford the proper care for any animals we took in. We insisted on raising all money ourselves” Brittany said. “We thought that having one large fundraising event would be the perfect starting off point. We shared our goals and the beliefs behind Shelter Chic, and everyone who came--many family members and friends--came because they believed in not only our message, but our potential.”

The initial benefit was so successful--having raised just under $20,000 from ticket sales, silent auction, and donations--that the organization decided to have one every year.

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At present, they typically expect between 250 and 300 guests. Organizing the occasion was a big job. Brittany, Amanda, and their benefit planning committee reached out to everyone in and out of their networks and explained that the money Shelter Chic raises from these benefits go 100% to the animals.

“We’ve found many generous people and businesses who believe in our cause and want to help. DJ Vikas decided to donate his services, as well as the amazing group at Hipstr, who are donating a photobooth!” she stated. “My friend Rich Thomas is a partner at TAO Group and he told me that TAO does a lot of work with charities and is accommodating to their budgets, so we decided to go to them for this event. We then found people to sponsor specific costs associated with the benefit.”

Endeavors

Brittany is especially interested in creating a “fospice” program to get the senior/terminally ill animals out of shelters so that they don’t have to spend their remaining days alone.

“The two biggest obstacles were finding fospice homes and affording end of life care,” Brittany declared. “One day I saw on the daily emails from animal control a nine-year-old Yorkie who had been surrendered to the shelter by his family. I reached out to my friend Sarah Brasky of Foster Dogs NYC, who has a much larger audience, and told her about this dog. She then had the amazing news that Foster Dogs NYC has a fospice program, and a network of people interested in fospice care. Not only that, if one of our dogs was in their program, they would donate to his care! I immediately told the ACC we would take this dog and Sarah worked to find a foster for Scrappy.

I met Scrappy at Pure Paws Vet after he had been dropped off by the ACC. He had the sweetest face and most gentle eyes. X rays showed he had very aggressive lung cancer and the vet said he had days, possibly a couple weeks left to live before he wouldn’t be able to breathe. We got him some medication to make him more comfortable and I brought him to fospice.

Katie, his devoted fospice mom, fell in love with him. Knowing his time was limited, she fed him anything he wanted--hamburgers, chicken nuggets, and pizza. He loved being outside, so she would take him on long stroller rides throughout the day. He slept on her head every night. Katie called me one day and said Scrappy was starting to lose energy and his breathing became strained, so we made the decision to peacefully put him to sleep.

Katie and I went together, held him, pet him, and told him he was loved as he crossed over that rainbow bridge. Scrappy meant so much to me not only because he was one of the sweetest souls I have ever met, but he was the first fospice dog we pulled, and seeing how amazing his final days were have encouraged us to keep doing the program. Since pulling Scrappy we have taken two other fospice dogs, one of which has been adopted and the other who is responding well to medication and is quite happy. Scrappy left his paw print on my heart.”

A labor of love

Brittany works hard to support the mission of the charity but it is a labor of love.

“There’s nothing better than seeing animals end up in loving forever homes,” she said. “Every animal who enters our family is important, but seeing the ones who started off at the very bottom now living happily ever after- nothing beats that. Ultimately, we hope to change people’s perceptions about the animal rescue world and encourage the population to stop buying pets.”

As of now, the charity operates as a foster-based rescue, although they hope to one day open up a combination boutique-animal shelter where the income goes to running the shelter.

“There are benefits to placing animals in foster care because you learn more about their personalities and can figure out the best home to adopt them to, also making them more adoptable by having them live in a home first,” Brittany said, “but the plan would be to attract people who typically spend money on their pets, who tend to buy pets, and have them come shop while seeing the amazing animals we have looking for homes. Pet stores attract people because they have cute animals. Shelters repel people because it’s hard for many to see animals looking sad and in cages. People will come into a store that sells cute/funky items to shop. Once inside, they will see adorable animals up for adoption--senior animals, pit bulls, and the highly desirable purebred animals people spend thousands of dollars for. We still plan to utilize foster care to make animals more adoptable and give them TLC they deserve, but it would be a great way to get the issue in people faces and break down the stereotype of the sad shelter dog. We feel this model would make the biggest impact down the line, not just for the animals in our care, but for changing the mind of the average pet lover who’s avoided the hopelessness portrayed by many shelters.”

To learn more about Shelter Chic, visit their website and follow them on social media. #Dogs And Cats #Cats And Dogs