Dogs, Diamonds & Denim gala benefits pet home

Laura Tichy-Smith
Special to Coastal Life

Most galas in Naples offer red-carpet photo opportunities for a chance to dazzle the camera with diamonds, but there’s likely to be only one this season that does it with hay bales as the backdrop.


Brooke’s Legacy Animal Rescue will hold its first-ever gala – Dogs, Diamonds & Denim – on Saturday, Nov. 14.


The hoedown promises to be a real hootenanny with a country music disc jockey, line dance lessons, southern barbeque buffet catered by Radical Rations, silent auction, and a country fashion show featuring Western-costumed dog wranglers strutting rescue mutts in need of sponsorship.

All the funds from the fun go to help pay the all-volunteer nonprofits’ mounting expenses for the fortunate little souls it manages to rescue from euthanasia.

“What we are trying to do is raise enough money to pay off our present veterinary bills, which are at $7,000 right now,” said organization founder Tink Bechtol. “It adds up. We recently got in three kittens with severe respiratory infections. We’ll charge $100 to adopt them, but each of their vet bills ran $500. That's what we do – we take the ones that are adoptable and get them healthy enough to be adopted. No other rescue is taking them. Last year our vet bills totaled $50,000.”


For 10 years, Brooke’s Legacy has been an organization that has tried to bring about positive outcomes from unfortunate circumstances. Founded by Bechtol, the nonprofit is named in memory of her daughter Brooke Miller, who died of injuries from an auto mishap while she was on her way to her 18th birthday party.

According to the organization’s website, Miller’s puppy survived the accident, and Bechtol started the organization that takes in pets scheduled for euthanasia in order to give them the second chance at life that her daughter did not get. The organization’s veterinary clinics, Mission Hills Veterinary Center and The Animalife Veterinary Center, both in Naples, do provide discounted care for the rescued animals but cannot waive all fees.


“Our vet needs to feed his children, too,” Bechtol said. “I own Groomingdales of Naples, so I’m able to do all of the grooming for free.”

Bechtol’s business might be the closest the organization comes to having a headquarters. Instead of a shelter, the organization relies upon a network of volunteers in Collier and Lee counties to provide foster care in their own homes and take the pets to adoption showings at pet stores.

Cape Coral is one of the communities that has developed a dedicated core group of Brooke’s Legacy volunteers.

“We’re really building our presence in Cape Coral,” said volunteer and Cape resident Tara Moser. “We’re at Pet Supermarket Cape Coral three days a month. This Sunday (Nov. 8) from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., we’re doing a yappy hour at the new Perk and Brew on Cape Coral Parkway next to Iguana Mia. It’s their grand opening, and they’ve turned it into a yappy hour, so we’ll have a booth. We’re working with Cape Coral Brewing to have a yappy hour there later in November.”

Moser said ideas for the gala began coming together about a year ago.

“We’ve been formulating a plan for a gala where we can tell people to bring your boots instead your of black tie so that it’s more informal,” she said. “But it’s still creating awareness and having a good night out to help the animals, and all the money, like everything else we do, comes right back to the animals.”

Connect with this writer: @LauraTichySmith (Twitter)