ARF brings families together

Finding Fur-ever Love




The Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons will host its annual Bow Wow Meow Ball on Saturday, August 17, at 6:30 PM in East Hampton. An evening of cocktails, dinner, dancing, and auction items will raise funds to support animals in need.

But when the glasses have emptied and the checkbooks have been put away, it’s the stories that leave a lasting impression.

Lisa Blinderman and her husband, Cliff, purchased the Second Nature markets in Southampton and East Hampton in 1994, making them a recognizable, local family on the South Fork. Yet their heartfelt connection to the area began back in 1985 when they adopted their first ARF rescue, a basset beagle mix named Polly. The family has been adopting ever since. A few years ago, the Blindermans adopted a 17-year-old cat, Spooky, who was brought to the shelter when her owners passed away. Spooky was able to live out her final three years of life with the loving family.

“I like adopting older cats, cats with medical issues, or cats that, for no apparent reason, were passed over,” Lisa Blinderman said. Then, another cat, Bonkers, came into the picture. Bonkers fell from a high-rise building, and arrived with a broken jaw, in addition to a multitude of injuries, and was essentially left for dead.

ARF’s medical team saved the feline’s life, performing multiple surgeries and feeding him through a syringe. A year later, Bonkers was ready for adoption and the Blindermans swooped in. “He’s a character. I find him drinking my coffee if I leave the room. He makes me laugh and his antics give me so much joy. At night, he sleeps on my husband’s face. Every day he does something more outlandish than the day before,” she said. Their most recent addition to the family was Caillou, found on ARF’s critical list: those who have spent their lives at the shelter.

Meghan Bozek, a real estate agent at Douglas Elliman, was introduced to ARF in the early 1990s during family summers in Montauk. She officially moved to the area full-time about four years ago and needed a way to fill her time during the colder, winter months, so she became a dog walker. Then, in 2015, she adopted her first ARFan, Tink, a terrier mix rescued from Dallas. Together, the pair became a registered therapy team through Pet Partners through which they visit nursing homes, schools, and more.

“In my experience, ARF is so accommodating for the dogs and cats that come in, be it a short or a long stay. The staff and other volunteers are beyond warm and welcoming for any person that comes through their doors. It feels like a family. I often find myself at ARF on holiday mornings, where I know I will be greeted with such love, by both the ARFans and the wonderful staff,” Bozek commented. She is an active volunteer in the Village Walk Program and has two other rescues from ARF, Tiana, rescued from St. Croix, and Brighton, rescued from South Carolina.

In 2019, ARF is expected to take in over 1400 dogs and cats, with more than 28,000 animals rescued and placed since the organization began in 1974.

At the Bow Wow Meow Ball, fashion designer and entertainer Isaac Mizrahi will receive the Champion of Animals Award. Dinner will be catered by Olivier Cheng, with music by the Peter Duchin Orchestra. In addition, animals will be on-site, ready for adoption.

“You’re doing a kind act by giving a homeless animal a chance. Each time someone adopts, a spot becomes available for another deserving animal. But it can’t be entered lightly. Too many people think animals are disposable, and when problems arise, they’ll discard a not-so-perfect pet. You wouldn’t return an adopted child; you don’t return an adopted animal,” Blinderman said.

Tickets start at $750. Visit online at www.arfhamptons.org.

nicole@indyeastend.com