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Fur coats galore at Valentine's ball

It was a Valentine's Day ball to remember. Couples, music, dancing, great food, and lots and lots of fur.

Calm down, animal activists.The fur was still attached to the owners.

Dogs and pet lovers came together for the first annual Valentine's Day Fur Ball and Banquet Saturday evening in Promontory Hall at the Utah State Fairpark.

Soft, jazzy music and an occasional bark or yelp serenaded more than 200 people who gathered in the red-and-pink bedecked hall for the event. Conversation among the pet owners was lively and happy canines enjoyed the festivities as well.

Rascal, a Yorkshire terrier, was dressed to the nines for the occasion in a tiny, black tuxedo and top hat. Edward Scott, Rascal's owner, complemented his "Yorkie" by wearing a Scottish kilt.

Scott's wife, Diana, is the executive vice president of Wasatch Humane, the nonprofit organization that organized the Fur Ball.

"We want to save more animals. That's what this is all about," she said.

The proceeds from the event will go toward Wasatch Humane's spay and neuter programs, rescue programs, shots for the animals, and the "Lessons in Kindness" humane education program, according to Milada French, president of the board.

Most who attended the event came for fun and a unique activity on Valentine's Day. Others came for a little romance.

Sampson and Dakota, a chow lab and a husky lab, are two very good-looking, single dogs. According to their owners, Edie and Steve Simbeck of Sandy, "they don't have girlfriends yet, but they're hoping to find someone here."

The evening's activities included dinner, a silent auction to help benefit Wasatch Humane, and a special recognition for three animal-control officers who "truly go out of their way" to keep animals from being euthanized, said Cheryl Smith, executive director and coordinator of the Fur Ball.

Honored were Brent Varney, from Riverton Animal Control, Maryann Beck of West Valley Animal Control and Misha Clarin from Salt Lake County Animal Control.

Of course, a ball would not be complete without dancing. Most pet owners expressed reluctance, however, to take the floor with a four-legged dance partner.

Said Steve Simbeck, "I'm just trying to figure out how to keep these two (Sampson and Dakota) under control so I can eat dinner."