Amanda Vincent – By bringing together posh pets and the people who love them, Amanda Vincent is helping to improve the lives of neglected animals.

When Amanda Vincent was first asked to “put on a dog prom,” she felt it was too crazy a concept to turn down.

“The Fur Ball is a pet-friendly, black-tie event—there are literally dogs in tutus,” she explains. “How could I say no?”

The event was conceived as a high-profile, high-energy fundraiser for the Companion Animal Alliance of Baton Rouge, a nonprofit organization that operates the parish animal shelter. CAA works to reduce the number of animals entering the shelter and offers pet adoption and foster care programs.

For Vincent, a lifetime animal lover, the cute-and-cuddly potential of the ball was only a small part of the draw. “I have a dog who has licked tears from my face when I cried, has sat protectively on my pregnant belly, and has literally ripped a snake to shreds when he saw it under my son’s swing,” she says. “I believe dogs are examples to us of God’s faithfulness and unconditional love, and if we can learn to treat them with kindness and humanity, then maybe we can learn to treat each other the same.”

When the night of the first ball in 2012 arrived, it was a flurry of furry fun. Picture women in long gowns down on the floor playing with dogs, and men in tuxes holding cocktails in one hand and bejeweled lap dogs in the other. It’s no wonder, then, that all the attendees were also wearing huge childlike grins. Add live music, a catered spread for humans and pets, and silent and live auctions, and “it’s the most fun you’ll ever have, I promise,” says Vincent. “No pretentiousness, just people who love animals gathering together to support a great cause.”

In the event’s first two years, $172,000 total was raised to support the animals at the CAA shelter. “The money is well used and much needed,” she says. “With CAA’s intake rate, it can unfortunately go quickly.”

Vincent’s focus throughout all the planning and playing has remained on the animals she is so committed to helping. “If you go to the shelter, you will see two sides of humanity: the dogs in kennels who have been beaten, tethered, starved” [and] volunteers who give of their time and show the animals the love and care they were not previously receiving. “They do it because they care and they know they are making a difference, and it really is a beautiful thing.”

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What do you love about the volunteer efforts that you do?
When the focus is on other people, or in my case animals, I lose the “all about me” mentality, and life is just so much better.

How is your cause making a difference?
Companion Animal Alliance is saving more and more animals because of the support it receives. It recently formed a partnership with the Target Zero Institute with the aim of eliminating euthanasia on local animals.

What do you hope to achieve?
Long-term, I would love it if the shelter wasn’t even needed. But I’ll settle for record-breaking attendance at the Fur Ball next year.

How would you like to inspire others?
Come to Fur Ball 2014 on May 10! You’ll have a blast and be supporting a great cause. With the proceeds of just one ticket, CAA can spay/neuter, vaccinate, microchip and feed a dog.