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(L-R) James Bias (SPCA of Texas President), Natalie Bias, Jocelyn White (SPCA of Texas Board Chair), Micki Rawlings, Mayor Mike Rawlings (Photo credit: Jerry McClure)

The SPCA of Texas' Fur Ball 2015, “You Only Live Twice,” was held on Saturday, September 19 from 6:30 p.m. to midnight at the Omni Dallas. The James Bond-inspired black-tie evening featured an elegant Japanese flair and included dinner, dancing and live and silent auctions for over 800 guests. Thanks to the generosity of sponsors, patrons and guests, Fur Ball 2015 raised $450,000 to help the SPCA of Texas serve 50,000 animals and their people in 2015.

Guests were greeted by the heart-pounding rhythms of the Kaminari Taiko Japanese Drumming Ensemble as they made their way up to the Omni’s Dallas Ballroom. Lychee martinis were the signature drink during cocktail hour, and competition was fierce at the over 300-item silent auction. Plus, two adorable litters of puppies (all spayed and neutered!) from the SPCA of Texas’ iFoster program romped and played as they were cooed over and petted by the glittering guests.

The delightful dinner included an Asian salad with mandarin oranges and sesame dressing, soy and shitake braised short rib with wasabi mashed potatoes or chili and scallion marinated tofu with Yangzhou fried rice. The delicious dessert was Azuki bean and coconut panna cotta with dark chocolate and sesame tuile.

Gloria Campos, retired anchor of WFAA-TV Channel 8, served as Mistress of Ceremonies, and as she put it most eloquently, “Why do we love our pets so much? Because they love us so unconditionally.” SPCA of Texas Board Chair, Jocelyn White, welcomed guests and SPCA of Texas President and CEO, James Bias, waxed eloquent on the importance of supporting the SPCA of Texas’ mission: to provide every animal exceptional care and a loving home.

Mr. Bias also introduced a very special story of rescue, rehabilitation and love while highlighting the organization’s animal cruelty investigations work by presenting a heartwarming video about Phoenix, a dog rescued from cruelty. In a special surprise, Phoenix (now living happily ever after with a loving family) came to the stage with his adoptive family. There was not a dry eye in the room when Phoenix enthusiastically kissed his family on stage and then rolled over for a belly rub!

The SPCA of Texas also presented the 2015 Spencer Humanitarian Award during Fur Ball. Named for warm-hearted entrepreneur and long-tenured, past SPCA of Texas Board member Mary Spencer, the Spencer Humanitarian Awards recognize an individual, company or group whose extraordinary efforts have made a positive difference for animals. The 2015 recipient of the Spencer Humanitarian Award was Kelly Thompson, a dedicated SPCA of Texas volunteer, former board member, Texas Tech graduate, Ebby Halliday Realtor and friend to animals.

Guests also made it their mission to bid high on live auction items. High rolling patrons won sports suites, glamorous getaways, decadent cases of wine and more. The top two live auction items of the evening were both once in a lifetime experiences. One of these was a two day, two night package for four to the world-renowned animal sanctuary, the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas, complete with personalized tours and more. And, the biggest wow of the live auction came when the Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers announced the final package of the evening: 12 luxury suite tickets to Garth Brooks’ final Dallas performance and a guitar signed by Garth Brooks!

Fur Ball 2015 raised the bar with headline entertainment by Haute Chile, the Vanity Fair Oscar Party band from Los Angeles, California that has performed with Elton John, Ringo Starr and Christina Aguilera, just to name a few.

Fur Ball 2015 was a fabulous success thanks to event chairs Stacey Kivowitz, Katy Murray and Jocelyn White; honorary chairs Janelle & Larry Friedman, Lynn & Allan McBee and Jan Miller & Jeff Rich; underwriting chair Claire Schwarz; auction chair Nicole Rosenblum; and auction co-chair Mary Elizabeth Kappes.

This year’s Athlete for Animals was Craig Ludwig, Dallas Stars Alumnus, two-time Stanley Cup Champion and Fox Sports Analyst. This year’s Artists for Animals was Craighead Green Gallery, recognized as one of the finest contemporary art galleries throughout Texas and the Southwest, representing over 40 nationally and internationally recognized artists of all mediums.

The SPCA of Texas sincerely thanks special partners, including Diamond Whiskers sponsor: Jan & Trevor Rees-Jones; Golden Collar sponsors: Janelle & Larry Friedman, Stacey & Don Kivowitz, Lucky Dog Barkery, Myron K. Martin, Katy Murray, Northern Trust and Jocelyn White & Kim Seal; Silver Bone sponsors: Diane and Hal Brierley, Gwen & Leldon Echols, Marsha & Richard Gray, Hill’s Science Diet, Claire Schwarz & Mary Spencer and VCA Animal Hospitals; and Bronze Paw sponsors: Alphagraphics at Market Center, Augustine Insurance Agency, BKD, Linda Chapa, Jimmy Choo - Highland Park Village, Nichole Donnell, Kieran English, Brad Fenton, Becky Fisher – PepsiCo, Grand Spa, Jack Knox, Texas Capital Bank, Kelly Thompson and Shannon Welch of Fisher & Welch.

Guests included Dallas Mayor Mike and. Mrs. Micki Rawlings, Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, Phil Romano, Andrea Alcorn, Rhonda Sargent Chambers, Craig and Heather Ludwig, LeeAnne Locken, Joyce Fox, Doris Jacobs, Janelle and Larry Friedman, Yvette and Robert Feiger, Dr. Deborah Westergaard, Brent and Pam Nicholson, Tricia Linderman, Kevin and Michelle Kemp, George and Barbara Langdon, Dr. and Mrs. Richard Gray, Rebecca Marabito, Dr. and Mrs. John Vandermeer, Cassie Evans, Robert Frierson, Dr. P.M. Parker, Eric Johnson, Becky and Greg Fisher, Phyllis and CJ Comu, Don and Anne Short, Gus Hinojosa, Miguel and Andrea Trejo, Kurt VandeMotter, Pam Brock, Shannon Welch, Sandra Fite, Michael Kaufman and Durward Watson.

Fur Ball is DFW’s salute to the bond between people and their pets and a celebration of the SPCA of Texas’ important mission to provide every animal exceptional care and a loving home. All money raised through Fur Ball 2015 will go directly to the SPCA of Texas to help rescue, heal and find homes for thousands of animals.

Next year’s event is already in the works. The chairs for Fur Ball 2016 are Phyllis Comu and Kristen Greenberg, with Sandra Fite as auction chair. Fur Ball 2016 will be held on Saturday, September 24 at the Omni Dallas.

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