Dogs Rescued in Landmark Legal Case Have Something to Wag About At Fourth Annual Annapolis Cruise Fundraiser

Posted on September 16, 2009

Victims of North Carolina Animal Hoarders Celebrate New Life with Maryland Adoptive Families

Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Michelle Kownacki, Paws pet boutique

Welcome aboard!Annapolis, Md. – After a lifetime of suffering in horrific conditions on the property of convicted animal abusers in the small town of Sanford, North Carolina, a Jack Russell Terrier named Ben who was rescued by the Animal Legal Defense Fund in a groundbreaking lawsuit will be cruising with his Annapolis-based adoptive family in a gala fundraiser for the animal organization. Ben will cast away for a night of celebration with more than 50 of his four legged friends–and their human families–who will be enjoying the celebration aboard the Harbor Queen.

When: Friday, September 18, 7:00 pm – 10:00pm
Where: Annapolis City Dock on Watermark’s Harbor Queen

Why is the Annapolis City Dock going to the dogs? In the spring of 2005, the North Carolina judge presiding over ALDF v. Woodley found the animal “hoarders” (a term used to describe people who keep far more animals than they are able to care for) guilty of multiple counts of animal cruelty and ordered the removal of their hundreds of dogs – many of whom had been living in their own excrement and urine, denied appropriate human contact and care, and kept for their entire lives in dark packing crates. In the landmark victory, profiled in a feature story in the June issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, custody was awarded to ALDF, and all of the animals have been adopted into loving homes.

When Larry and Michelle Kownacki, the owners of Paws Pet Boutique in Annapolis, learned about ALDF’s legal victory–and the ongoing need for foster families for the overwhelming number of  dogs rescued from the Woodleys–they volunteered to become the foster mom and dad to Ben, a now-spunky Jack Russell terrier who continues to thrive with his adoptive family. Last September, Michelle organized the third annual voyage of “Little Ben’s Big Fundraiser Cruise” for over 50 dogs and 150 human supporters. The sold-out event raised more than $10,000 for the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

“It has been an incredible journey for Ben on the way to our high seas celebration,” says his adoptive mom Kownacki. “Not a day goes by that he doesn’t make us laugh with his sheer enjoyment of life. He was close to death not long after joining our family, and I made a promise that if he pulled through, we’d have a big fundraiser, in honor of him and all of the effort that went into his rescue. In an effort to help stop abuse and neglect for the animals who still suffer each day, we have made Little Ben’s Big Fundraiser Cruise an annual event in Annapolis.”

Last minute tickets for the dog-friendly festivities, featuring a live band, complimentary finger foods, and the most incredible Silent Auction around, are available by calling 410-263-8683. Tickets are $55 (dogs are free when accompanied by a well-behaved adult). This year the Silent Auction features donations from local Annapolis businesses including a beautiful ceramic hen from Casanova, Sterling silver bracelet and dog charm from Zachary’s Jewelers, $200 Golf Greens from, and a wine tasting for 20 people from Bay Ridge Wine and Spirits – and more! All proceeds benefit the Animal Legal Defense Fund, founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing interests of animals through the legal system. For more information, please visit

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