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October 3, 2012

Comedians donate their talents ‘For the Love of Animals’

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Franklin Village Council Trustee Pam Hansen poses for a photo with her smiling pup, Sadie. Hansen took Sadie in last January after Guardian Angels Animal Rescue saved the dog from a life alone on the streets of Detroit.

ROYAL OAK — On Oct. 10, Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle in downtown Royal Oak is going to the dogs. Some of the area’s most talented comedians are teaming up with Guardian Angel Animal Rescue to help save animals in need around metro Detroit.

GAAR is a nonprofit no-kill animal rescue with volunteers dedicated to saving animals from dangerous lives on the streets, neglectful homes and shelters that practice euthanasia. The group, headed up by Sandy Mezza of Livonia, saves animals from harmful situations and gets them the medical care they need in order to be adopted out to forever homes.

GAAR also provides foster care for animals in need and community education initiatives to spread awareness of important animal-related topics, including animal cruelty and overpopulation. The group attends schools and nursing homes to set up animal visitation days.

The admirable work is important to many helpless animals in need, and perhaps to one in particular. For five years, a yellow Lab by the name of Sadie was on her own on the streets of Detroit. Though GAAR tried a number of times to rescue her, Sadie kept evading their efforts and ran away to an abandoned building in a dangerous neighborhood. Finally, one day last November, Sadie decided she’d had enough of her tough life and allowed the GAAR volunteers to pick her up.

A photo of Sadie made its way to Franklin Village Council Trustee Pam Hansen, who immediately fell in love with the pup. Sadie had heartworm disease and a large tumor, but with a little veterinary attention, she was able to go home with Hansen just a short while after her rescue.

“I was the one that oversaw her treatment and gave her a really quiet place so she could recover,” said Hansen, who has had Sadie for about nine months. “This dog had kind of a sad look on her face, and she’s coming out of that now. My goal with her is just to make her feel safe, and I think within another year she’ll be just fine.”

Hansen said it was because of GAAR that she was able to find the newest member of her family, and because of that she wants to help the group however she can. She’s teamed up with Connie Ettinger of Comedy Productions to organize a special fundraiser at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle in downtown Royal Oak. Ettinger said the event will feature four of Detroit’s most popular comedians, who’ve graciously donated their time to benefit GAAR.

“Mark Ridley has said this is probably the best collection of Michigan comedians and an event not to be missed,” said Ettinger. “One hundred percent of all proceeds will go directly to benefit the animals. There are no expenses; they all have been donated. All the comedians donated their time, which is virtually unheard of. That alone is like $8,000 of entertainment expenses we’re not spending. This is truly a one-of-a-kind fundraiser.”

Slated to perform at the event are local comedians Dave Landau, Bryan McCree, Mike Green and Norm Stulz. The evening will begin at 7 p.m. with a 50/50 raffle and live auction, with the comedy show starting at 8 p.m.

Ettinger said that in order for GAAR to continue rescuing animals in metro Detroit, the organization needs to pay down its debt with veterinarians, who’ve been kind enough to keep treating the sick animals that GAAR is able to save despite mounting bills. The motto for this fundraiser, she said, is to “raise 10K on 10/10.”

“They do the angels’ work. When they call themselves guardian angels, they’re not exaggerating. I think a lot of people will come there to support us.”

Tickets for the For the Love of Animals fundraiser range from $15 to $100 for general, preferred seating and VIP admission. To make reservations, call (248) 542-9900. Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle is located at 310 S. Troy St. in Royal Oak.

For more information on Guardian Angel Animal Rescue, visit www.GAARMichigan.org.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.