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ARF Fetes Filmmaker Katharina Otto-Bernstein During Bow Wow Meow Ball

Lee Fryd

Maren Otto and Katharina Otto-Bernstein. (Photo: Lisa Tamburini)

Once a year, Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons (ARF) tents a section of its 22 acre campus and "puts on the dog" for the Hamptons animal lovers who support it. In a world of conspicuous consumption, these people don't buy their pets. They rescue them. And they have their own versions of the tale filmmaker/philanthropist and Bow Wow Meow Ball honoree Katharina Otto-Bernstein told of her beloved shelter dog.

A Shepherd/Husky mix from ARF, who passed last year at age 17, "Freckles was as faithful and loving as you could imagine," Otto-Bernstein told the room, as she accepted her award. "And to compensate for the hard years, he was allowed to sleep in our bed - diagonally. Freckles survived every illness known to mankind. In his later years our vet would make housecalls. And there Freckles would lie on the duvet, in his master bedroom, propped up on a down pillow watching Chuck Scarborough." We thought of High Bonneville's dog, Isis, breathing his last breath in his Lord and Lady's Downton Abby master bed.

Otto-Bernstein has been anonymously donating the food for ARF rescues for 15 years, part of a family tradition of animal philanthropy. "My mother supports animal shelters in Moldavia, Roumania and Majorca, rescuing cats and dogs from the most horrendous circumstances," Otto-Bernstein told the room. "My husband Nathan shares my passion and my sons Nicholas and Jonathan spend countless hours volunteering at ARF."

ARF's Izzie and her pal were ready to play. (Photo: Owen Hoffmann/PMC)

Yes, lucky dogs rescued from high kill shelters in the South can end up in waterfront Hamptons manses, living on bison beef and flying private. But, we suspect, all loving homes are equal in their eyes. "It's a win for them, a win for us and a win for the families who adopt them," Lisa McCarthy, ARF's President told us, adding, "We're going to adopt out over 1,500 animals this year. And we are a four star Navigator rated charity, which in the charity world is a very big deal." (Only 5 percent of charities rated by Charity Navigator, the largest independent evaluator in the US receive that rating.) "We also have our adoption mobile, and a spay/neuter van where we are going to spay or neuter over 2,500 animals," she added

This past year, McCarthy instigated a Hamptons wide drive for kids to set up lemonade stands for ARF, to encourage philanthropy and animal welfare awareness. It's working, Executive Director Scott Howe told us. "Adoptions are up and we're seeing more families. We've adopted more kittens than ever, which is so important, because we're at the end of kitten season," he noted. "And we don't stop. We have a major adoption event in September and we hope to adopt over 40 animals in a single day."

Ellen and Chuck Scarborough. (Photo: Lisa Tamburini)

Glorious Food provided a vegetarian meal; Peter Duchin and his Orchestra were responsible for the music. Benjamin Doller of Sotheby's served as auctioneer. Notable Guests included: Chuck and Ellen Scarborough, Candance Bushnell, Peter Marino and Jane Trapnell, Emilia Saint Amand, Leslie Alexander and Liz Brown, Barbara Slifka, Barbara and Donald Zucker, Diana and Marvin Chudnoff, David Sidwell and Majo Prazenec, Gigi Mahon, David Brownstein, Christina and Alan McDonald, David Netto, Guenther Greiner, Lisa and Brian McCarthy, Kathy and Billy Rayner, Nicole Miller, Franci and Joe Rice, Virginia Coleman and Peter Duchin, Gordon Hoppe and Michael Breault, Missy Hargraves, Christopher Mason, Ivana Lowell, Jean and Martin Shafiroff, Albert Behler and Robin Kramer, and dancers from the New York City Ballet.

Robert Wilson introduced Otto-Bernstein. She wrote and directed the award-winning documentary about him, Absolute Wilson as well as his biography. Recently, she produced the Emmy nominated Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures. "My subjects are always named Robert!" she laughed to Hamptons.com.

For more information about , visit www.arfhamptons.org.

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