More than 1,000 attendees of the Humane Rescue Alliance’s 32nd annual Bark Ball gathered at the Washington Hilton on Saturday night in their black-tie best, including upwards of 400 four-legged guests, some of whom donned bow ties, tuxedos, crystals, and pearls.
VIPs in attendance included former Sens. Bob and Elizabeth Dole and Roberta McCain, mother of late Sen. John McCain. But it was Shepherd, a puppy who made an emotional transformation in the care of HRA after being left for dead in a ditch in NE DC, and his newly-adoptive family who stole the show when they walked the runway to a standing ovation and a round of applause.
The evening’s master of ceremonies, NBC Sports Washington host and anchor Julie Donaldson, led the crowd through a live auction, which included tickets to see the Washington Nationals in the World Series, and “Rally for Rufus,” raising $77,000 in just one hour.
Entertainment included live artist Elliott From, who kicked off the evening painting Washington National’s pitcher and HRA supporter Max Scherzer, the U.S. Capitol building and the 2019 Bark Ball signature dog. The paintings were later sold during the live auction. Then, unsuspecting guests were surprised by a flash mob of dancers who rose from their seats and danced in coordination throughout the aisles to The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling.”
The event raised more than $686,000 for HRA. All proceeds will support the programs and services HRA provides to the community, including direct rescue and care of animals in need, cruelty investigations and animal control services, robust community support programs that help pets stay with their families, and a premier transport program that invests in partner communities to solve pet overpopulation sustainably and nationwide.
“This has been a transformational year for the Humane Rescue Alliance,” said Lisa LaFontaine, president and CEO of HRA, at the event. “We have taken on challenges I would have never dreamed possible, from investigating animal cruelty and neglect to advocating for the passage of progressive legislation to protect the most vulnerable animals. I’m especially excited about our work to expand our reach in supporting communities around the country that are struggling under the weight of animal over population.”
“As we transition into 2020, we will not be slowing down one bit,” added LaFontaine. “We have ambitious plans to take on even tougher challenges and we can do that because of each of you here tonight.”