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Sellout crowd raises record $750,000 for PAWS Chicago

Fur Ball Co-Chairs Michael Nancy Timmers Dr. Kurt Julie Miller | Photos by MaliRae Photography

Fur Ball Co-Chairs Michael and Nancy Timmers and Dr. Kurt and Julie Miller | Photos by Malia Rae Photography

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Updated: December 16, 2011 8:11AM

Partygoers of the canine persuasion, escorted by their doting “parents,” were welcomed Friday night to a gala held in their honor: the aptly titled “Fur Ball” to benefit PAWS Chicago. Teacup Yorkies in frilly frocks joined bulldogs sporting tuxedo T’s at the yearly soiree at the Drake Hotel and enjoyed an evening of pampering, tasty treats and major fund-raising by their human counterparts on their behalf.

The event sold out for the first time in its 10-year history, with 650 guests happily ponying up $400 for themselves and $100 for each of their pooches. PAWS Chicago founder Paula Fasseas, who attended the party with her husband, Peter, credited gala chair couples Michael and Nancy Timmers and Kurt and Julie Miller for the success of the event that raised a record $750,000 for the animal rescue organization.

Attendees began the evening with cocktails as they took time to peruse the extensive silent auction tables. Later, the party moved to the ballroom as guests enjoyed oysters, shrimp and prime rib from an elegant dinner buffet. Some pooches kept their noses firmly to the ground while their people ate — ready to catch any morsel that might be missed — while others enjoyed puppy massages and gourmet meals with PAWS volunteers in the “Doggie Day Spa” located in a posh suite upstairs.

Notable faces spotted among the crowd included philanthropist Ann Lurie; socialite Irene Michaels; Bruce and Deborah Crown; NBC5’s LeeAnn Trotter, and Mike and Kristina McGrath, who were presenting sponsors. The highlight of the night: the live auction that raked in major cash with its one-of-a-kind packages. Planning committee member Bonnie Spurlock was delighted and surprised by her husband James, as he purchased — after a fierce bidding war — a private portrait sitting for her that was donated by famed fashion photographer Victor Skrebneski. The highest-grossing item was the chance for the winner to feature their pet on the PAWS annual calendar, which went for a whopping $38,000.

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