Animal Friends Alliance raises over $175,000 at annual Gala for Animals

Apr 14, 2022 | Member News

Animal Friends Alliance’s annual charity benefit, Gala for Animals, netted over $175,000 on March 26 to help support the nonprofit’s cat and dog shelters and community pet resource programs. Nearly 420 guests and over 50 volunteers were in attendance at the “Mardi Paw” themed Gala for Animals, held at the Hilton Fort Collins Hotel.

The event featured a live auction called by Dani Dotterosa and speeches by Animal Friends Alliance board members Kris Cafaro and Jana Dean, DVM, as well as Co-Founder Ali Eccleston, and Co-Founder and Executive Director Sarah Swanty.  During the program, Swanty welcomed a special guest to the stage: Tsuki, a pointer mix who received specialized medical care during her stay with Animal Friends Alliance in early 2022.  The Gala for Animals raises funds for Animal Friends Alliance’s shelters, including medical treatment for the cats and dogs in its care, and community pet resource programs to keep pets in their homes.

Generous businesses and individuals donated hundreds of items to make the Gala for Animals silent and live auctions a success. With a record number of guests and mobile bidding allowing supporters to participate from anywhere, the silent auction raised over $42,500 for the nonprofit, a new record. More than 20 artists also donated their talents to create the crowd-favorite Magnificent Beast art pieces, cat- or dog-shaped wooden silhouettes, which dazzled guests and led to competitive bidding through the silent auction.

Two businesses and two individuals were honored with 2022 Above & Beyond Awards for their exceptional commitment and dedication to the organization.  The business winners were Horizon Mechanical Solutions and Autumn Parry Photography.  The individual winners were Jackie Rohrbacker of Fort Collins and Kelly Little of Windsor.

Since its inception in 2006, Animal Friends Alliance has grown to employ over 60 staff members and has an annual operating budget of $3.5 million. The annual Gala for Animals plays an important role in supporting the nonprofit’s services and mission to provide comprehensive companion animal resources, services, and education to the community to prevent homelessness and promote the human-animal bond.

“We are so proud of this fantastic event that will enable us to help even more animals and people in our community,” said Executive Director Sarah Swanty. “Mardi Paw would not have been as successful as it was without the support of our 34 amazing sponsors, including our presenting sponsors Poudre Pet & Feed Supply, Avoderm, and Natural Balance Pet Foods.”

Other major sponsors included Horizon Mechanical Solutions, Countryside Animal Hospital, Bank of Colorado, Dennis Schick of RE/MAX Alliance, Fort Collins Veterinary Emergency & Rehabilitation Hospital, Four Seasons Veterinary Specialists, Hank’s Pet Food Market, InkWorks, KUNC, OtterCares, Sage Benefit Advisors, and VCA Animal Hospitals.

Animal Friends Alliance Board Vice President Jana Dean, DVM (left), and President Kris Cafaro introduce the evening’s program at the organization’s annual Gala for Animals, “Mardi Paw”. (Photo by Autumn Parry Photography)

Volunteer Renie Olson (right) greets a feline guest held by volunteer Shaianne Munoz.  The gala netted over $175,000 to help pets, like this kitten, throughout Northern Colorado. (Photo by Autumn Parry Photography)
Animal Friends Alliance Executive Director Sarah Swanty receives an affectionate greeting from Tsuki, a special guest who attended the gala with her family.  Tsuki was adopted in early 2022 after receiving medical care at Animal Friends Alliance for a life-threatening abscess. (Photo by Compelling Images Photography) Volunteer Stephen Inman poses with adoptable dog Leslie at the “Bourbon Street” photo booth during Mardi Paw.  Animal Friends Alliance found homes for 3,580 dogs and cats in 2021 – Leslie is still looking for her perfect home. (Photo by Silver Paw Studio)

About Animal Friends Alliance 

Animal Friends Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing comprehensive companion animal resources, services, and education to the community to prevent pet homelessness and promote the human-animal bond. Animal Friends Alliance’s services include a limited-admission, adoption-guarantee shelter for cats and dogs, subsidized sterilization and vaccination clinic, and kibble pantry for pet guardians in need. Since its founding in 2006, Animal Friends Alliance has found homes for more than 32,000 cats and dogs and the clinic has performed over 80,000 spay/neuter surgeries. More information can be found at