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A Wild West Worthy Shindig Benefits Houston’s Four-Legged Friends

The Bow Wow West-themed Wags and Whiskers Brunch and Pet Fashion Show raised over $113,000 to benefit Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston’s Animeals program

Photo credit: Quy Tran

The Celebration

Fashionable Houstonians and their fashionable pets gathered at Hotel ZaZa on February 17, 2024 for the 11th annual Wags and Whiskers Brunch and Pet Fashion Show. The Bow Wow West-themed event benefited Interfaith Ministries (IM) for Greater Houston’s Animeals program. This crucial initiative provides pet food, pet toys, and preventative vet care supplies to over 1,300 pets of homebound seniors in the IM Meals on Wheels program. Shirin and Saied Alavi and Dr. Vasant Garg and Dr. Kim Tran co-chaired the brunch, while Todd Ramos produced the celebrity pet fashion show. Casey Curry emceed the event.

The Story

The 265 guests sat down to a tasty brunch of creamy roasted cauliflower soup en croute, blackened chicken breast with cilantro, turmeric rice, and balsamic Brussel sprouts along with twin desserts of tres leches cake and strawberry shortcake. They also enjoyed perusing, and bidding on, the silent auction items, which ran the gamut from pet gifts, services, and toys to sports memorabilia, artwork, family experiences, jewelry, beauty and spa experiences, and rodeo and theater tickets.

The event everyone was waiting for was the Pet Fashion Show. Celebrities and their pets strutting their stuff on the catwalk were: Roger Applewhite and Keyser Soze, Ivonne Camarena and Don Cheto the cat, Beth Clark and Yeti, Freddy Cruz and Sparrow, Louise Goldberg and Rosie (second-place winner), Karen Jankowsi and Bella Donahue (first-place winner), Kian Tavackoli and Moose (third-place winner), and Beth Wolff and Dandy. Lara Bell, Swoon Magazine; Deborah Duncan, KHOU Great Day Houston; Jeff Gremillion, Houston CityBook magazine; Sarah Leftwich, Houston Modern Luxury magazine; and Joy Sewing, Houston Chronicle had the difficult but exciting job of judging these heart-warming pairs.

The Moments

Curry delivered welcome remarks to guests and their furry friends and was joined onstage by IM President and CEO, Martin Cominsky and IM board chair, Dr. Kathy C. Flanagan. After giving an overview of the Animeals program, they introduced the event cochairs who presented an award to Greater Good Charities. The organization is a longstanding Animeals supporter and works to help people, pets, and the planet by mobilizing in response to need and amplifying the good. Greater Good Charities’ Grants Administrative Manager, Kathy Poritzky, accepted the award. 

Guests were inspired by a video testimonial of one of the program participants who shared the critical importance of receiving pet food and vet assistance in her home in addition to her Meals on Wheels deliveries. Animeals spokesdog, Moose, escorted by IM Board Secretary and Development Committee Chair, Nadia Tajalli, engaged the crowd for a special appeal and online fundraising. 

The event raised over $113,000 to benefit Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston’s Animeals program.

Sponsors of the event included: lead Lone Star sponsor Fred G. Marshall, Susan and Dan Boggio, Ann and Ronald Kaesermann, Marek, Maureen Quirk and Leslie Harris, Shirin and Saied Alavi, Baxter and Cleo Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Loren Blanchard, CenterPoint Energy, Charlene Chuang, Dexter and Evie Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Kathy Flanagan, Doe and Henry Florsheim, Karen and Jay Harberg, Karen Jankowski, Anuradha and Dr. Kohur Subramanian, Nadia Tajalli, and Dr. Shahin Tavackoli.  

Guests: Susanne and Randall Evans, Emma V. Chambers, Wendy Cooper, Dr. Marla Fielder, Brian Wagaman, Rev. Dr. Tamla Wilson, Sheila Aron, Cynthia Wolff, Cheryl Byington, Alex Blair, Connie Kwan-Wong, Gregg Harrison, Aliza Dutt, Barbara Van Postman, Debbie Pakzaban, Christine Zhou, Janine Iannarelli, and Jane Page Crump.

About Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston  

A United Way partner, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston (Interfaith Ministries) brings people of diverse faith traditions together for dialogue, collaboration and service, as a demonstration of their shared beliefs. Interfaith Ministries provides the following main services: Meals on Wheels for Greater Houston and Galveston County delivers more than 1.9 meals each year to over 5,300 homebound seniors and people with disabilities across four counties; Refugee Services, in conjunction with the U.S. State Department and Episcopal Migration Ministries, resettles thousands of refugees in Houston annually; Interfaith Relations and Community Partnerships provides community services and education fostering understanding, respect, and engagement among Houstonians of all faiths and no particular faith; and the Vic Samuels Center for Volunteerism and Civic Service through Volunteer Houston, which connects volunteers in transformative projects with area nonprofits and SERVE HOUSTON, which forms the leaders of tomorrow while meeting the community needs of today. For more information, visit

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