Society plans ‘Passion for Paws’

Published 10:30 pm Wednesday, September 16, 2015

It could be considered unusual that a restaurant specializing in steaks is the location of an animal fundraiser.

Guests bring their pets to the annual Passion for Paws fundraiser for the Suffolk Humane Society, dressed to the nines for their pet costume contest.

Guests bring their pets to the annual Passion for Paws fundraiser for the Suffolk Humane Society, dressed to the nines for their pet costume contest.

But the River Stone Chophouse will be the setting for the Suffolk Humane Society’s Passion for Paws Picnic fundraiser. Planned for Nov. 8, it will be held in the parking lot of the North Suffolk restaurant.

Teresa Mullins, owner of both the River Stone Chophouse and Vintage Tavern, is a huge animal lover and supporter of this organization.

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Mullins considers herself somewhat of a foster mom to dogs. “They are our children,” she said. When she can, she helps animals in need by looking for homes for them. “The animals themselves don’t really have voice,” she said. “They tend to be overlooked.”

As a child, Mullins grew up in a house full of animals. Her mother was a nurse, and with the caring spirit that came with that, she frequently took in and cared for injured animals, Mullins said. She recalled a story from her childhood when a stray dog followed her sister home. Her mother eventually convinced her father to let them keep the dog, and shortly thereafter, the dog had eight puppies, she added.

“I can only do so much as one person,” Mullins said on her animal efforts. This event helps grow the effort, and last year, the event raised a little more than $10,000, Mullins said.

She hopes the event will not just raise money but also bring more awareness to the issue of animal welfare and get more people involved.

“It’s one of our biggest fundraisers,” said Eileen Gizara, executive director for the Suffolk Humane Society. For the past four years, all of the event’s proceeds have gone to society, she said.

Each year the society holds three main fundraising events, Gizara said. Mullins likes to consider the Passion for Paws Picnic the Suffolk Humane Society’s food-focused event of the year. “It gives me an opportunity to give back,” she said.

“They enjoy giving back as well,” Mullins said of her restaurant staff, who would typically enjoy their Sundays off. Many employees volunteer to work the day of the event from noon to 4 p.m. The volunteer sign-up positions have already been filled, Teresa Mullins said.

But this event is not enough for the Mullinses. They would love to one day get involved with a way to help pets of deployed military personnel or get involved with a “no-kill” shelter, said Brian Mullins, Teresa’s husband and co-owner of both restaurants.

New this year, the event will include roasted oysters, Brian Mullins said. Along with these, food from both Vintage Tavern and River Stone Chophouse will be available, as well as burgers, barbecue sandwiches and hot dogs, the couple said.

Guests aren’t required to purchase food or wine tasting tickets to attend, Teresa Mullins said. There will be plenty of other entertainment for guests to enjoy, such as a silent auction, a dog costume contest, pet rescue groups, a pet obstacle course, music and more.

Tickets can be purchased prior to the event, or on the day of. To purchase your advance tickets, call Vintage Tavern, River Stone Chophouse, or the Suffolk Humane Society.