Mutts to Models - ISF's Mardi Gras Ball

Ian Somerhalder Foundation

It’s no surprise that a Mardi Gras Ball benefitting the Ian Somerhalder Foundation must include dogs!

ISF's first-ever Mardi Gras Ball, Mutts to Models, hosted by Ian Somerhalder and the Mystic Krewe of Mardi Paws, was held on Saturday night, January 20th, 2018. The glamorous party and fundraiser took place in Mandeville, Louisiana, near ISF’s Bayou Lacombe Sanctuary Land. The inaugural event celebrated the local communities and ISF's mission to positively impact the planet and its creatures. Mutts, purebreds and dogs of assorted breeds were celebrated on the runway in a night dedicated to our love for all creatures.

The Charity Ball included a star-studded VIP cocktail reception, followed by the runway show and a memorable after-party. Forty celebrities, local philanthropists, sports and media personalities, veterans and other heroes walked the runway with their dogs. Ian Somerhalder joined emcees Margaret Orr of New Orleans WDSU-TV6 and her longtime former colleague, Kriss Fairbairn                                                                                        Fortunato, to welcome everyone and deliver colorful commentary during the show.


 (Left) Ian Somerhalder welcoming the guests. (Right) Sandra Lunte of the non-profit All Hounds on Deck and Hannah the hound, who is a grant recipient from ISF.


Our beloved celebrity Monarchs from the 2018 Mardi Paws Parade, Kerry Cahill and Sabrina Gennarino from the hit television series The Walking Dead, strutted their stuff with excited canine companions wearing House of Privilege and Hip Doggie attire. Other actors to walk the runway included J.D. Evermore, Presley Richardson and Charlie Talbert, the only attendee to walk with a cat.  A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the 2018 canine court, with the top dogs wearing fetching royal robes designed by Mary Viveiros of the House of Privilege Canine Couture. The Royal Canine Court included: King Duke Rivera; Queen London Richard; Grand Duke Tuckyr Spotswood; Lady in Waiting Miss Nellye Ingrish; Duke Wrigley Ingrish; Maid Sydney Richard; Scepter Bearer to His Majesty Buddy Horner; Scepter Bearer to Her Majesty Tzu Suarez; and Attendants Tater, Fern and Stewie DeMarco.


(Left) Actress Kerry Cahill of “The Walking Dead,” “Free State of Jones,” and “Mudbound.” She’s the national spokesperson for AMVETS.
(Right) Actress Sabrina Gennarino, an avid animal lover and advocate. She and her husband, Pietr Gaspersz, rescued and placed hundreds of dogs in both New York City and Los Angeles before moving to New Orleans. Sabrina is an actress and producer, currently playing Tamiel on “The Walking Dead.” She also has a recurring role on TNT’s “Claws.”


Another star of the runway was Army veteran Erick Scott, who received a black lab named Gumbo from the K9s for Warriors program after serving three tours in Iraq. Gumbo was sponsored by New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, who donated the funds to train the dog and gave him his Louisiana-centric name. One of ISF's Emergency Medical Grant recipients, Hannah Hound, was escorted by Sandra Lundte of All Hounds on Deck Rescue in North Louisiana. The human guest of honor was Ava Gastian, the 2018 Mardi Paws Parade Marshal. The six-year-old from Madisonville inherited a rare genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis, which causes brain, spinal cord and nerve tumors. Closing out the evening was music by the Creole String Beans, a classic New Orleans party band whose crowd-pleasing performance did not disappoint.

The evening was embraced by all as not to be missed. Mutts to Models will now be celebrated annually, in addition to ISF’s Mardi Gras Parade, Mardi Paws. Scott’s Wish, which provides aid for patients with leukemia and life-threatening illnesses, is the other beneficiary of Mutts to Models and Mardi Paws events. For updates and announcements, subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media.

A very special thank you to our Sponsors:

Graziela Gems, Top Rags of America, Jennifer Rice & Team/Berkshire Hathaway, American Factory Direct Furniture, The Paretti Family of Dealerships, Medvet Medical and Cancer Center for Pets, Jim Carey Distributing, See-Hear Productions, Tito’s Handmade Vodka for Dog People, Modern Woodmen Covington, Camp Bow Wow Covington, The Peake Family, Mindy Bianca Public Relations, House of Privilege Pet Couture, Hilliard Bruce Winery, New Orleans Original Daiquiris, Sassy Bitch Wines, Raoul Blanco Couture, Tim Richardson Esq,, Chewy, Aveda Institute Covington, Dr. Kelly Burkenstock's Skin Body Health, Willa Heart, Dapper Godz, New Orleans Pelicans, Bite Back Mosquito Control, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism, Penelope Francis and Co., Fancy Faces Decor, Vesuvian Books, Royal Event Rental, Morris Animal Foundation, Hope Richard Photography, Lucy Pet and TonyOnTheWeb




Thank you to the following for helping make our fundraiser a success:

ISF volunteer Denise Gutnisky, whose dedication & love for animals made this event possible
Mallory Lauren Photography
Mutts to Models Logo by Willa Heart
Article co-written by Mindy Bianca and Jules Trace
Edited by Heidi Trace
Photography by Bak Rizaev of Bach Imagery LLC, Mariam Rizaeva
Video by Derek Wohltmann and music by Creole String Beans
Additional Press Coverage
Alexandrea Weis
The Advocate
The Voluntourist 

The Helmstetter's & Celentano's, Tito's Handmade Vodka for Dog People.



(Left) Mary Paretti and her cocker spaniel, Max, dressed in Hip Doggie. (Right) New Orleans WDSU-TV 6’s morning show anchor Charles Divins, a former model and actor. He’s escorting Mardi Paws Grand Duke Tuckyr Spotswood, whose royal robe was designed by House of Privilege Canine Couture. 


(Left) Actress Grace LaRocca and Iko the poodle.  (Right) Misty Theriot, her dog Lucy, whose jacket was designed by House of Privilege Canine Couture


(Left) Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Norah Rice, Mardi Paws Rocky Dalton, a Bernese mountain dog and Queen XVIII, and her sister. Both girls are dressed in House of Privilege Canine Couture. (Right) Mardi Paws King XXIII, and his dad, Jason Dalton, Rocky's royal robe was designed by House of Privilege Canine Couture.


Tiffany Peake and her extra handsome rescue dog, Hobo.


(Left) Actress Presley Richardson and her dog Bella, both wearing House of Privilege Canine Couture. (Right) Mardi Paws Queen XXIV, London Richard and her mom, Hope Richard. London's royal gown was designed by House of Privilege Canine Couture.


More photos from the event!
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ISF depends on your support to continue to provide education and programs in support of Creatures, the Environment and Youth. Please consider donating today.