The ASPCA’s annual Bergh Ball gala is just around the corner, and this year’s event is extra special.
On April 14, the organization will pull out all the stops to not only celebrate people who have made remarkable contributions to the animal welfare community but also to recognize a notable milestone for the ASPCA — the 150th anniversary of the organization.
“This year’s ASPCA Bergh Ball takes on special significance, occurring in the very month of our founding 150 years ago,” said Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA. “This gathering of animal welfare champions exemplifies the high level of compassion and commitment that inspired Henry Bergh to create the ASPCA in 1866 – a dedication that continues to drive our life-saving work around the country.”
The black-tie gala will be held at The Plaza Hotel on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue. Martha Stewart will be presenting the ASPCA Compassion Award to Drew Barrymore for her work in the animal community.
“Drew is a great example of this commitment. For years, she’s been an outspoken voice against animal testing and animal cruelty, and a strong advocate for pet adoption,” Bershadker told This Dog’s Life. “Drew’s prominence and responsible pet ownership also make her a model of animal welfare advocacy for others, and I look forward to congratulating her and working with her on future projects.”
Other high-profile animal lovers who will be in attendance include actor Nathan Lane, DJ Mark Ronson, actress Lake Bell and TV personality Jill Rappaport, among others. Besides rubbing shoulders with prominent people, dogs will be walking the red carpet, tails wagging and feeling fortunate to have a second chance in live.
Once inside, guests will enjoy a delicious dinner, music, hear inspiring tales and have the opportunity to bid on amazing prizes to support the ASPCA. There will be a live auction in conjunction with an online auction and will feature items and experiences including a personalized voicemail from Lena Dunham, a trip to Turks and Caicos, John Mcenroe tennis lesson, Bruce Springsteen signed guitar and a commissioned portrait by William Wegman.
The theme of the event is “Round of A-Paws for 150 Years” and the organization has made strides and will continue to do so in the years to come.
In January, the ASPCA took part in the largest companion cruelty case in the organization’s history. It was deployed to North Carolina where the group removed 700 animals living in horrendous conditions, with many suffering from open wounds, respiratory disease, kidney failure and emaciation, among other ailments.
“I was there, and it felt so fulfilling to rescue these animals,” says Bershadker. “But what happened next was even more inspiring. In March, nearly 3,500 people showed up from across the state for an adoption event we’d set up. By the end of the second day, 524 animals — some of whom were old or had special needs — had gone home with new owners. I think this event demonstrates the deep level of animal welfare compassion in North Carolina and nationwide, which is why I’m excited to share it at Bergh Ball. I know it’ll have the same impact on our guests as it did on me.”
In terms of the next 150 years, Berdshadker expects the ASPCA to continue to be a voice for the voiceless and focus on specific initiatives including pet retention, legislation fighting for animal welfare, introduce additional regulations and expand law enforcement.
“We hope this will have a profound impact on our culture – just as Henry Bergh’s vision and efforts did — inspiring more people to value animals, understand their plight, and commit to improving their lives,” he says.