Unionville farm to host SPCA gala

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By Kathleen Brady SheaManaging Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com

Chester County's SPCA gala would not be complete without its carriage parade, a colorful tradition that's always in fashion.

The Unionville home of an East Marlborough Township supervisor – used for scenes in two films by M. Night Shyamalan — will provide a historic backdrop for this year’s elegant, summer fund-raiser for the Chester County SPCA.

The property of Cuyler and Katie Walker, which includes a mid-1800s stone farmhouse and five Labrador retrievers, will welcome guests on June 10 from 5 to 8 p.m. to the 25th annual Forget-Me-Not Gala, an evening of music, dancing, and culinary offerings to support the work of the county non-profit.

Emceed by NBC10 anchor Dawn Timmeney, the event will include an exhibit by West Chester artist John Hannafin, who will donate a painting to the silent auction; music by Younger Than Charlie; the traditional carriage parade; commemorative portraits by Gifford Photography; gourmet food and libations; and a canine demonstration by U.S. Customs officials.

Cuyler Walker said he had enjoyed the “great food and wonderful atmosphere” of past galas and was motivated to host the event by the important work the Chester County SPCA provides.

Cuyler Walker, a dog-lover who is hosting the SPCA benefit with his wife, Katie, shows off three of the family's five Labradors.

“The Chester County SPCA is a great organization and is really appreciated across the county,” Walker said. “They provide an invaluable service by reuniting animals with their families, taking care of animals in need, and finding new homes for lost or abandoned pets … I encourage people to come out on June 10 and support the important work of the Chester County SPCA.”

Walker said Shyamalan used the property to shoot scenes for both “The Happening” and “The Last Airbender.”

Contrary to popular belief, the Chester County SPCA does not receive government funding and is not affiliated with any national organization. Instead, it relies on residents’ donations for its animal advocacy efforts.

Among the agency’s responsibilities: investigating cruelty cases and rescuing the animals involved in them. The staff includes several Humane Society police officers who investigate and respond to complaints of animal cruelty and neglect. Those complaints average between 400 and 500 a year and include mistreatment such as animals who are chained outside without proper food or shelter, animals who are abandoned, sometimes even tortured, said Rich Britton, a Chester County SPCA spokesman.

Britton said this past year has been a particularly challenging one for the agency. In addition to funding a much-needed expansion of its West Goshen facility, it has had to cope with the economic downturn that prompts more people to surrender their pets.

Tickets for the gala, which must be purchased by June 6, are $175 per person and eligible for a $150 tax deduction. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. For more information, visit http://www.ccspca.org/events1/forget-me-not-gala/.

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