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Tuxes & Tails

It's a 'ruff' life when you haven't got a family to call your own, but when humans care, those sad 'tails' can quickly turn into success stories.

In Becker County, those humans often attend the Tuxes & Tails black tie event.

This year the evening, full of formal fashions, fabulous food and furry friends, will be held Friday, Dec. 2, in the Holiday Inn Detroit Lakes.

"This is our signature event for the organization," said President of the Humane Society of the Lakes Cyndi Anderson, who says the fundraising event pairs gentlemen donning tuxes with canine companions for a sort of fashion show.

"They have risers that are built like a runway that's lit," said Anderson.

"So the tuxes (men) walk in one side, do a pose, and while they're walking, the emcee will be saying a little bit about the tux -- who he is, what he does, as well as telling about the dog -- the real star of the show."

The idea is to raise money for the Humane Society of the Lakes, which operates on 100 percent donations.

"It's the unfortunate reality, but it's also the blessing because we've been fortunate enough to have a wonderful community that's been very supportive of it," said Anderson.

Through tickets (which are $50 each) and a live and silent auction, Tuxes & Tails organizers hope to raise at least $20,000.

"It's a limited number of really nice quality items," said Anderson. "It's just a nice, fun, social evening that benefits the Humane Society, and it gives people a chance to dress up, which we don't often get to do here in Detroit Lakes."

Event organizers say although the event is black tie, attendees typically come in anything from evening gowns and tuxes to nice jeans.

"It is Detroit Lakes after all," laughed Anderson, "and really, we just want people to come in whatever they're comfortable in."

Although, Anderson mentioned that Affairs by Brittney in the Washington Square Mall is offering a discount to customers wanting to rent formal apparel for this event.

The evening begins with a social hour from 6 to 7 p.m., leading up to a dinner.

Dogs will be dining separately.

"They'll be cared for and given snacks -- just not in the dining room," said Anderson.

Following dinner will be the fashion show.

"The dogs may be groomed or be wearing a bow tie or something, but the tuxes are reserved for the humans," said Anderson.

The men walking with the animals are community volunteers who may either be walking with their dogs (often an adopted animal) or be walking with a shelter dog.

Last year they showcased four shelter dogs at the event.

"One of them was an eight-week-old puppy who found a home with somebody who was at the event," said Shelter Manager Casandra Vigesaa-Disse, who says the event was brought back a few years ago by popular demand after being on hiatus.

"People love it," said Bigesaa-Disse. "It's unique; it's a fun, eloquent evening. You're able to come in an evening gown or cocktail dress, sit at a table where candles are lit and there's music playing in the background, but you can also bring in the animals and showcase them, so it's just neat bringing it all together."

Bigesaa-Disse says it takes roughly $85-$100 a week to feed the 50-plus animals they have in the shelter on any given day.

Then add an additional $125 to $150 per animal for medical care, which doesn't even include spading and neutering.

"And our adoption fees are $125 for a dog and $95 for a cat, so those needs for the animals exceed the adoption rates -- this is where these fundraisers come in," said Bigesaa-Disse.

A "no-kill" shelter, the Humane Society of the Lakes tends to always be full and usually with a waiting list.

Tougher economic times haven't helped matters.

"As times get harder, the need gets greater because sometimes people just can't afford to take care of their pets," said Anderson, "and so they have to surrender them --that's an unintended consequence the shelter has seen."

Tickets can be purchased from any Humane Society of the Lakes board member, at Mosaic Consulting at 1106 Washington Avenue or at the shelter three miles north on Highway 59.