New York foster-based group Shelter Chic is gearing up for its annual benefit to raise money for the care of stray and abandoned animals. The animal rescue has taken a unique approach to sheltering that includes hospice care and pet sponsorship. To date, the small business has helped over 130 stray and abandoned pets.
Born out of a desire to bring the joy back into foster care and to help as many animals as possible, founders and old college friends Brittany Feldman and Amanda Folk formed a business that put animals first. Together they started Shelter Chic, a unique shelter that takes in animals from across the country, and as far as Puerto Rico. “I wanted to start a new kind of animal shelter—one that didn’t portray pets up for adoption as victims.” Instead, Feldman wanted to create a fun and happy atmosphere for her shelter. “We believe in showcasing the strength and resilience of these wonderful animals to attract a wider audience for sheltering,” says Feldman.
By 2015, the duo gained their non-profit status, and in April 2015, Shelter Chic began taking in animals. They obtain their rescues in a few ways, including saving dogs from the Newark ACC shelter in New Jersey, and taking in dogs from areas with a high volume of strays. To raise money for their fostering program, they leverage business relationships to put on an annual fundraising gala. Thanks to the generous donations of several sponsors, their first benefit raised $20K for their rescues.
Feldman and Folk’s ultimate goal is to open a chic pet boutique with adoptable cats and dogs that sells unique merchandise for pets and their pet-loving owners. In October of 2015, that dream became a temporary reality when a commercial space was donated to them for one year. They got to work transforming the space into an animal haven where they sheltered pets and sold specialty items for animal lovers.
Feldman and Folk used the funds from the pet boutique to care for the pets. “We didn’t take salaries so that all the money could go to the pets,” says Feldman. The boutique also acted as a daycare, where foster parents could leave pets to play as they ran errands. The boutique closed in October 2016 when the duo’s lease was up. Shelter Chic is now back to sheltering exclusively with the help of a network of foster families that house the dogs and cats while they are awaiting their forever homes. Despite the temporary setback, Feldman and Folk haven’t given up on their dream of running a permanent pet boutique.
Today, Shelter Chic is expanding into hospice care and pet sponsorship, as they look for new and creative ways to promote animal welfare. With hospice care, Shelter Chic is attempting to help terminally ill pets live out their final days in comfort. “We take terminally ill animals and put them into hospice care to make them feel happy, and spoil them until the end,” says Feldman. They’ve currently taken in two terminally ill dogs for hospice care with the help of Foster Dogs NYC. The company’s “fospice” program provides end-of-life comfort and care to homeless, terminally ill and elderly dogs with limited time left. Foster Dogs NYC donates $400 for each dog’s care. The fospice sponsorship package includes assistance finding a forever foster home, a Harry Barker dog bed, and a subscription to BarkBox, among other things.
Shelter Chic’s Big Brothers and Sisters Program also recently launched, which allows pets to sponsor shelter animals, helping to support their care and comfort. Participants in the program can donate $500 to Shelter Chic to sponsor a dog or cat currently in foster care. Shelter Chic pairs sponsor pets with a little brother/little sister, and provides a picture and bio of the animal being rescued. Shelter Chic features a picture of each sponsor pet next to a picture of his/her new sibling on the “Big Brother and Big Sister” Program page of the Shelter Chic website. Sponsors receive bi-weekly updates on their pet’s little brother/sister so they can follow them on their journey from their time in foster care to when they find their forever home, and hopefully after. Donations go towards transport fees, veterinary expenses, food, treats, toys and other basic needs of the pet while they are in foster care.
The Shelter Chic Benefit Event
The annual Shelter Chic Gala is May 11th from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Tao Lounge Downtown. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite. Guests of the event will enjoy a night honoring the non-profit’s many rescues filled with fun and music by DJ Vikas Sapra. The venue is providing delicious appetizers for guests, while several vendors, including Sixpoint and Gato Negro, are donating beverages. Guests can try their luck at the private auction, where they can win prizes like tickets to the New York Rangers and Hamilton on Broadway. Event sponsors include Pure Paws Veterinary Care, Yuruani Olguin Dog Training and Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz. All proceeds from the silent auction and event go to supporting the animals. There are 300 people expected at this year’s event.
Shelter Chic puts on one grand event per year to raise funds for their fostering and rescue programs. Last year’s event earned $30K, but Feldman and Folk hope to earn enough from this year’s proceeds to reopen their boutique shelter and broaden their reach.
Date & Time: Thursday May 11th, 8pm-11pm
Venue: Tao Lounge (Downtown) 369 West 16th Street New York, NY 10011
Photographer: Mike Leonhard
Photo Booth: Hipstr (Donated/Sponsored!)