Once upon a time, long ago in 1970, famed writer and animal protector Cleveland Amory put three women together to help the Hamptons Animal Shelter survive. The struggling shelter didn’t want newcomers, so, Sony Schotland, Dorothy Wahl and the late Barbara Hotchkiss Posener branched out on their own. They struggled for years, but Sony Schotland’s husband always told her, “Just keep at it. Some day this will be a recognized shelter.”
Today ARF is a Hamptons institution which celebrated its 40th Anniversary with a sold out Bow Wow Meow Ball on its 22 acre Wainscott facility. Watermill Center’s Robert Wilson and Broadway producers Darryl Roth, Bonney Comley and Stewart Lane were among the social crowd of animal lovers. Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes” emceed.
“Canines and felines have evolved quite a bit since they first wandered out of the forest … and started … developing a very symbiotic relationship with people,” Kroft told the crowd. “Today, they know how to communicate with us, read our moods, and seduce us into doing all sorts of things they want us to do. … They have a powerful lobby now in Washington and Albany and some of them even have health insurance (or pet insurance). But tonight we’re here for the less fortunate Hamptons animals, the helpless, the dislocated, the homeless. They honor the people of ARF who have been willingly seduced into helping them.”
Cleveland Armory was one such seduced. A writer/TV critic and on-air Today show commentator, he once angered their audience by advocating sport rabbit hunters deserved to be hunted themselves, since there were overpopulated. He had noted the efforts of all three women to save homeless Hamptons animals — in those days many got pets just for the summer and then left them — and decided to empower the ladies.
“We were in business six years,” Schotland remembered. “We had no backing money, and no property, so we paid kennels and catteries to board the animals. It was very difficult. If someone came to look for a dog, we had to drive them around from kennel to kennel.”
Amory said he’d show them how to give a benefit at Guild Hall and split the monies with his Fund for Animals. “But we were totally green,” said Sony. “They didn’t even have a name. He did it all. At the end, he felt so sorry for us, he gave us all the money.”
Next Amory started started making introductions, “He brought Edward Albee, Dick Cavett and Roger Caras, a well known writer and the host of the Westminster Kennel. Then we had a little more clout, but it still took a long time to get people involved and get a Board. One of the volunteers, Susan Ordway, bought the 23 acres of land that ARF is on now. It was six years til we could raise funds for the building. Those of us on the board signed the mortgage — for $650,000 — and that was it.”
The night honored ARF’s 13 past Presidents, with five besides Schotland attending: Raymond Cortell, Jill Caras (the widow of Roger), Doug Cassidy, William P. Rayner and Polly Bruckmann. Current president Lisa McCarthy presented them with the ARF Champion of Animals Award.
Glorious Food catered. Alex Papachristidis and David Monn designed the blue and white decor. Peter Duchin and his Orchestra provided dance music.