SPCA Florida Raises Over $300,000 at Putting on the Ritz Gala

Oct 30, 2013, 15:45 ET from SPCA Florida

Polk County Sheriff Deputy and Canine Partner Honored with DiOGi K-9 Hero of the Year Award, Sheriff Grady Judd Roasted and Awarded "America's Sheriff" Recognition

LAKELAND, Fla., Oct. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- SPCA Florida raised over $300,000 at its fall fundraiser held Saturday, October 26 at SUN n' FUN Air Museum in Lakeland.

The event included the first annual DiOGi K-9 Hero of the Year Award—named in honor of Deputy Matt Williams and K-9 partner DiOGi who lost their lives in the line of duty. The prestigious award was given to Polk County Deputy Sheriff Shannon Rimes and his late partner K-9 Walker. The German Shepherd was chosen as the winner because he went above and beyond the call of duty, sustaining severe injuries when he was dragged 200 yards because he refused to release a suspect who was fleeing in a car. In addition to this instance of resilience, K-9 Walker was recognized for his 142 explosive detection deployments, 227 patrol deployments, and for finding 29 fugitives. Working alongside his partner Deputy Shannon Rimes, K-9 Walker served diligently to keep the community safe. K-9 Walker passed away suddenly from cancer, but his legacy will forever live on in the heart of his partner Deputy Shannon Rimes and in the community.

SPCA Florida's Putting on the Ritz gala event included a live roast of Sheriff Grady Judd by 97 Country's Roger Todd and Polk County Commissioner Todd Dantzler along with video commentary from Sheriff Judd's friends and staff on all of his media moments and catch phrases or "Gradyisms." He was recognized as "America's Sheriff."

The funds raised by Putting on the Ritz will allow SPCA Florida to care for the more than 6,000 dogs and cats the organization intakes each year.

"The success of Putting on the Ritz is a testament to our community's compassion and generosity," said Director of Philanthropy and Community Involvement Donna Stiteler.

She said the majority of funds came from sponsors and donors. Putting on the Ritz's major sponsors included: Talk Fusion, Watson Clinic, Publix Super Markets Charities, MidAmerica, Geico, and Pet Supermarket. Talk Fusion's CEO Bob Reina, who served alongside Vice President Allison Roberts as event chair, contributed $50,000 during the cash call portion of the program. Life-time supporter Anne Watkins contributed $15,000 to the cash call.

"These funds are critical as we continue to partner with the community to improve the well-being and welfare of all animals," said Stiteler.

To view photos and video from Putting on the Ritz please visit www.spcaflorida.org.

About SPCA Florida 
Founded in 1979, SPCA Florida exists to eliminate animal suffering and engage the entire community in the welfare and well-being of animals. SPCA Florida will help and heal 70,000 dogs and cats through its McClurg Animal Medical Center and provide direct care for 6,500 animals through its Adoption Center this year. Ani-Meals, which provides food and medical care for animals of homebound families, helps thousands more dogs and cats each year. Find out more about SPCA Florida or support Humane Florida by visiting www.spcaflorida.org.

Jessica Lawson
Community Relations Manager
O: (863) 577-4607
C: (386) 986-8093