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Strutting the catwalk for canines

‘Rescues on the Runway’ benefits homeless pets

Posted: February 10, 2010 10:37 p.m.
Updated: February 11, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Tiffany Michelle, former Miss Teen SCV, profesional poker player and recent contestant on "The Amazing Race" holds "Moxie," a rescued dog.

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It was a catwalk to benefit cats, dogs and other four-legged friends recently at the inaugural “Rescues on the Runway” dinner and fashion show event held at the Hyatt Regency Valencia.

More than 250 pet lovers of all ages joined together to partake in an evening of glitz and glamour to raise funds for the rescue of shelter animals.

A sparkling runway ran from the center of the Grand Ballroom, which was transformed into a fashion haven for the evening affair which benefited the effort to save homeless pets in danger of being euthanized due to overcrowded kill shelters across Los Angeles County.

Guests dined while enjoying an eyeful of couture creations, modeled by past and present titleholders of the Miss SCV Scholarship Program.

Event producer Mardi Rivetti said it was a fun way to help animals in need.

“I save animals all year long,” said Rivetti. “But I felt I could make more of a difference by combining what I do best — saving animals and putting on a fashion shows.”

A modeling instructor for the past 32 years and an animal advocate all of her life, the Miss SCV Scholarship Program director combined the two passions to create new strides of her own. From flowing ball gowns to funky urban attire, guests viewed creations featuring designs by Eugenia of Eugenia’s Designs in Canyon Country, Amie Lindvall of Images by Amie and designer Mul Tayoba.

Guests enjoyed the spectacle with the added knowledge that each $75 dinner ticket saved one life at a time, rescuing one dog or cat from a shelter’s “death row.”

In between poses and struts, guests could wander into the lobby for a look at the dazzling array of raffle and silent auction items on display. Gift baskets of pet-friendly paraphernalia were offered and included prizes such as dog vaccination gift certificates, treats, toys and grooming materials.

Silent auction items caught the attention of passersby with enticing beauty baskets, fragrances and sports packages.

A holiday boutique was also offered throughout the evening, offering tasteful trinkets from a variety of local vendors. While depositing her raffle tickets, guest Delmy Nunez’ 15 month-old Chihuahua, Tonka was also present and willing to help in the small ways he could.

“I rescued Tonka and I can’t imagine my life now without this dog,” said Nunez. “This kind of event reminds people that these are great animals and they deserve to live. That is why I am here and will support rescuing however I can.”

Lassie, known as “the world’s most famous dog” sat at attention during the fashion extravaganza and offered “pawtographs” to fans. The tail-wagging television icon is the 10th generation direct descendant of the original Lassie from the classic television series dating to 1954.

Trainer Carol Riggins has worked with descendants of the cultural icon for the last 27 years.

“Lassie is here today to support her brothers and sisters who are in danger,” said Riggins. “People know and love what this dog stands for. Hopefully it will help them remember the countless others out there that need our support and rescue efforts.”

Animals in show business are characters that author Kathryn Segura knows well.

Segura was on hand to sign her new book “Hollywood Barks” with a portion of the sale proceeds to benefit rescue efforts.

But Rivetti couldn’t pass up the opportunity to honor the local animal rescue organizations whose work is done when no one is looking.

Special honor awards were presented to local nonprofit organizations as well as members of the community who rally in their continuous efforts to save animals every day.  

Rivetti honored local animal rescue organizations whose work is done when no one is looking. Special honor awards were presented to nonprofit organizations and members of the community who work to save animals every day. Honored recipients were New Leash on Life, Bow-Wows & Meows, The Brittany Foundation, Carol Riggins, Rolf and Frieda Zimmermann, Pedro Cisneros DVM, Ruthann Levinson, Cyndi Myatt and Cheri Fleming.  

“I chose to honor those who are ‘hands on’ with the animals on a daily basis. They don’t just talk about it. They are actually rescuing and helping them,” said Rivetti. “Celebrating and honoring these fine people is stimulating and contagious to others.”

Rivetti said she founded Rescues on the Runway after reading the red dog kill list online last year. “That’s a list of dogs that will be euthanized within 72 hours at a Los Angeles County shelter,” she said.

After reading the list, Rivetti rescued 11 dogs from a kill shelter and brought them to her three acres of property in the SCV, where she cared for the saved pets and found new adoptive homes.

The life or death situation wasn’t lost on honored guest, Pedro Cisneros, D.V.M.  Known by Rivetti as “the veterinarian with a heart”, Cisneros has tended to a slew of Rivetti’s animals for more than 16 years.

“Dogs, rabbits, sheep — you name it, I’ve seen it saved by her,” said Cisneros. “Saving animals is her heart. It takes someone with her strength of heart to accomplish a huge endeavor like this and succeed at it. I know that she will.”

Cisneros offered a few tips for those who want to look for a new pet.

“First thing to consider is saving a pet. Go to the local shelters and adoption events. Being a vet, I am painfully aware of the statistics and I always recommend people consider rescuing,” said Cisneros. “They make some of the best pets in the whole world and you can see it in their eyes when they look at you. Such total, unconditional love.”

Cisneros wasn’t the only honored guest to speak on behalf homeless pets.

“Any event that promotes awareness of homeless animals and rescues is one I find worthwhile attending,” said Bow-Wows & Meows founder, Yvonne Allbee. “It’s really important for all of us to come together on this.”

All proceeds from the event benefit the rescuing of animals from the kill shelters in Los Angeles County.

“It takes a village to help, not just a few unselfish individuals. No one wants to hear more about the depressing hopeless thoughts of poor suffering animals. Let’s turn this all around and look at the hope and good things that are going to help the situation. Celebrate and stimulate people to get out and help too,” said Rivetti. “That’s what ‘Rescues on the Runway’ stands for — helping animals in need. And they need us now more than ever.”

For information: Mardi Rivetti (661) 252-3232 ext. 2 or visit Make checks payable to: Rescues On The Runway, 16654 Soledad Canyon Road #200, Canyon Country 91387.


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