Paws for the Cause Uses Social Media, Pre-Parties to Increase Exposure

By Carla Warrilow November 4, 2011, 9:27 AM EDT

Photo: JJ Thompson/The Compendium Daily

Paws for the Cause Benefit
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Dogs and local personalities walked the runway Thursday, October 27, at the Paws for the Cause Gala, a fund-raising fashion show to benefit the Ontario Veterinary College’s Pet Trust Fund and the Paws for the Cause Scholarship for a veterinary student. The event, now in its second year, worked to raise its profile with Facebook and smaller events before the gala at Airship37. With new sponsor Fido on board, 350 guests attended this year and the benefit raised $75,000, up from $25,000 last year.

“We wanted to pump up the numbers a bit,” said co-chair Paul Smith. This year, the committee expanded its online reach, holding a Facebook contest to win an Android phone from Fido and an open casting call for dog models, photos of which were posted on the Facebook page. Organizers also held a number of smaller events leading up to the gala, like a dog wash in Trinity Bellwoods park, a lemonade stand over the summer, and a ticket-selling party at a local bar where the team sold $99 glasses of spiked lemonade that came with a ticket to the gala. “We really raised the profile of Paws this year as more than just a party,” said co-chair and founder Laura Serra. “We're trying to be bigger, reach a larger audience, and do more, all in an effort to raise more money for our causes.

The larger venue allowed for more seating, a longer runway, and a backstage area this year. “It’s more of an official fashion show,” said Smith. Phillip Sparks designed for the dog-walkers and Babies and Beasts-designed outfits for the dogs.  

Servers passed hors d’ouvres from Pusateri’s, some of which were served in dog bowls with names like the “Haute Dog.” Sponsor activations included a Moroccan Oil hair touchup area and a photo booth from Photostar.

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