PALMETTO — Craig Cerreta was enjoying a glass of wine Sunday and at the same time contributing to the Racing Dog Rescue Project, one of his favorite charities.
The fundraiser at the Riverhouse Reef & Grill raised about $1,200 for the nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and finding adoptive homes for retired racing greyhounds, officials said.
Cerreta, of University Park, has four adopted greyhounds at home. He brought friends with him to enjoy hors d’oeuvres and wine or beer, helping to raise money at $25 per ticket for the organization.
“We wanted a big dog,” he explained about his family’s decision to adopt from the rescue project.
“That was first; the other thing is the personality fit us very well,” he said. “Greyhounds are calm, very patient and not very energetic, in fact. They’re lazy. They’re couch potatoes, big time, and we really liked that calm, affectionate dog.”
The event drew around 50 people to the restaurant perched over the water at 995 Riverside Drive. The crowd munched appetizers, enjoying a spectacular view of azure water and cottony clouds.
It’s expensive to feed greyhounds awaiting adoptive homes, who generally come from area dog breeders or trainers after their racing days are over, said Ingrid Messina, the organization’s treasurer.
She added, “We’re always looking for restaurants that want to participate.”
Last year, the project purchased a kennel for a new Greyhound Adoption Center in the 1800 block of Verna Road in Sarasota. It provides safe, clean, temporary housing for the animals.
The project pays for food, spaying and neutering, dental cleaning and veterinary care, so the dogs are adoption-ready. Those wishing to adopt pay a $275 fee, said Elaine Leitten, a volunteer who lives at Panther Ridge in east Manatee County.
“You look at the dogs, they make the best pets in the world, but we really need help,” she said.
Although the beneficiaries of the party stayed at the adoption center during the fundraiser, pictures of some of them were prominently posted for those who needed a little canine inspiration.
The project regularly holds fundraisers. For information, call (941) 379-3278 or go online to www.rdrp-greyhound.org.
Albert and Eileen McKenzie, of Sarasota, said they couldn’t be happier with their adopted greyhound.
“We have a beautiful greyhound named Angel,” said Eileen McKenzie. “But then they’re all beautiful.”
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031 or at firstname.lastname@example.org