Dogs Night Out … again
Suzanne Donaldson, originator of Dogs Night Out, at last year’s event in TOLA owner Alison Buck’s car. Donaldson will be leading a car caravan of Brookhaven Animal Shelter dogs this year in an antique Bellport Fire Department truck

File photo

Dogs Night Out … again

Story By: LINDA LEUZZI
7/21/2016


The sweeties will be hanging out the window with hope in their hearts from the Dogs Night Out car caravan Friday night. They’ll be driven from the Brookhaven Town Animal Shelter and Adoption Center into Bellport Village at 6 p.m., looking to be your loyal, trusted friend.

It is the second time for Suzanne Donaldson, who thought up the event as a precursor to Brookhaven Town’s Clear the Shelters happening on Saturday. She’ll be leading the dog parade. This time, it is in an antique fire truck.

“We’re doing it,” confirmed Bellport Fire Chief Anthony Pino Jr.  The truck is a 1934 Chevrolet LaFrance, a snazzy engine used for parades. “If the community needs us, we’re there for them,” Pino said.

Pino is also there for the dogs. His family has a rescue Stafford terrier/black lab.

The caravan, featuring a Brookhaven Animal Shelter volunteer or staffer with a dog in their lap, will pause on South Country Road in Bellport Village so folks can say hello to the canines and make a connection. 

 “That’s truly the motivation of Dogs Night Out,” Donaldson said. “It’s [our] aspiration for people to look at the animals, to honor the volunteers and give them a chance to showcase the dogs they’ve worked with.”

The turnaround is by Avino’s Italian Table, then it’s back to the shelter.

Local storeowners will offer raffle tickets, Donaldson said, and folks can gather in the courtyard next to Pamela Lerner Home and Design after the caravan leaves. Money from the raffles will be donated to the Brookhaven Animal Shelter and Adoption Center. 

“We’ll have champagne and cupcakes and toast the dogs,” Donaldson said.

Pamela Lerner suggested having prints of the dogs on hand at the gathering to further prompt people to adopt.

 “We’re hoping to bring between 12 and 15 dogs,” said Brookhaven Animal Shelter director Ashley Boyd, who added that the majority of the dogs from last year’s drive-through, which was around 20, have been adopted.

“We love this event and the volunteers and staff are excited to do it again. It’s relaxing, the dogs get to enjoy some time out and everyone has a good time.”

Donaldson, a former photo director for Glamour magazine who created Mrs. Sizzle LLC, pairs a fashion or animal product around an animal-centric theme on her website. 

“I do a lot of branding, marketing and public relations,” she said. That includes The Farmer’s Dog, a customized pet delivery service, and The Dog Collar Boutique website. Her touch is distinct and crisp with beautiful photos. She also produces social media and photo shoots for clients including The Maidstone.

But she is also involved with a lot of shelters in New York.

“I started Mrs. Sizzle because I won’t buy another dog again,” she said. (She has two Morkies and a labradoodle and was made aware of the shelter dogs’ plight by fashion photographer and friend Richard Phibbs, who volunteered and took photos of the dogs every month at the Humane Society of New York.) 

 “My way of helping is through arranging pictures where they wear spunky clothes, so they have a better chance of getting adopted,” she said. Donaldson did a volunteer stint at the Brookhaven Shelter two years ago and got award-winning photographer Sophie Gamand to shoot a pit bull series against a pink backdrop that was featured in Bellport Village shops. 

Donaldson said she’d like to see Dogs Night Out go national.

The second annual Clear the Shelters event at the Brookhaven Town Animal Shelter and Adoption Center set for Saturday, July 23 will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The normal adoption fees of $137 for a dog and $125 for a cat will be waived; neuter or spay, vaccinations, microchip, license, heartworm test, flea and fecal are all included at no cost. The event will include vendors and the shelter is located at 300 Horseblock Road in Brookhaven.