Downtown K9 Soiree

Feb 17 2015 | 04:31 AM

Event raises awareness and funds for older pooches who need loving homes By Helaina Hovitz On Friday, May 10, dozens of glamorous dogs - and a few badly in need of a good home - gathered at Han Nari & MG, a dog apparel and accessories boutique at 20 East 20th Street. Fortunately, nobody showed up wearing the same dress. The event was co-sponsored by lifestyle site City Dog Expert and the East Village based non-profit K9Kastle, an organization dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating, and finding homes for at-risk and surrendered companion animals in NYC. The event included a raffle, bar, discount shopping, dog sushi, puppy cocktails, and a photo booth. "It's harder to get senior dogs adopted because they need more care," explained Tara Ciabattari, Vice President of K9Kastle. "The cost is usually at least around $1,000, for medication, blood work, surgery (if needed), and dental." Fortunately, K9Kastle steps in to foot the bill so the dog is more adoptable and ready to go. The organization is able to find foster homes for most of the dogs, but some are boarded in shelters. "These organizations are desperate for fundraising," said Kimberly Marie Freeman, event organizer for Senior Soiree. By the time four Chihuahuas arrived together in a baby carriage at 7:30 p.m., the place was packed. One of the dogs up for adoption, Twinkie, still recovering from hernia surgery and the removal of a tumor, was lounging on a dog bed on one of the stores lower shelves. He was joined by tiny Italian greyhounds Fiona and Misha, 9, who also need a good home. "There has never been a greater need to shelter and rehome stray and surrendered companion animals in New York City than right now," said Freeman. The number of at-risk and special needs animals in New York City and its boroughs reached its highest number ever in 2012. Freeman's dog, Houdini, 5, is a Shih Tzu mix rescue from animal care and control. He was on the kill list because he had behavioral issues. "It took me six months of training work to get him to allow people to touch him," said Freeman, who is also a dog trainer by trade. On Friday, he was good natured trotting around in his tux, greeting other dogs and loving the attention from those who pet him. Houdini earned his name after he escaped from crates and puppy gates six times in his first day home. Lots of other lucky dogs with good homes and stellar wardrobes came, too, like six-year-old ZiZi, "a couture dog, who is an author, model, and philanthropist that tries to attend all the doggy events she can," according to her mom, Ilene Zeins. ZiZi eagerly jumped on anyone who cooed over her bright pink manicure and extravagant black dress. Another high profile pup, 16-month-old Pomeranian Gia, was wearing a tootsie roll and lollipop dress and matching hair bow. Soon, she'll make her cover debut with PUP Culture Magazine. Frankie, 6, who was all hot pink fur head to toe, didn't seem to mind the unwanted advance another dog made from behind. In all fairness, Frankie was peacocking. Nearby was five-year-old Suri, wearing a pink polka dot bow with pearls and matching necklace, sitting snuggly in her owner's tote bag. "We always go to dog fundraisers, and it's a great excuse to wear fancy outfits," said her mom, Artesia Adamo, who lives on Iriving Place and 18th Street. "Too many of these dogs need homes." Furry guests were served dog sushi hors d'oeuvres and given doggie bags full of treats to take home, and a pee-pee incident around 7:45 p.m. was handled discreetly and professionally by store employees. ( event, which drew 100 guests to the Gramercy Park store, raised $1,000 for the cause. All proceeds will go towards supporting senior, special needs, and surrendered dogs. K9Kastle usually cares for about twenty dogs at a time and four to five times as many cats. They're currently funded, in large part, by donations, because the grant from the Mayor's Alliance is almost at the end of its run. They are hoping to open up their own shelter soon. To adopt Misha, Fiona, Twinkie, or another senior dog, please visit