South Charlotte’s Wag and Wine fundraiser returns for second year

Animals First Rescue of the Carolinas will host its second Wag and Wine fundraiser and adoption event at Cru Wine Shop in Ballantyne, off Johnston Road.

The event will be 4-7 p.m. May 3; the wine shop is at 12206 Copper Way, No. 124.

The event will include a wine tasting with four to six red, blush and white wines; a raffle of animal-inspired gift baskets; and cats and dogs for adoption. There also will be an Elvis impersonator who will perform and pose for photos.

Proceeds from the raffle and Elvis photos, as well as a percentage of Cru’s sales that day, will go to Animals First. The money helps provide food and medical treatment for the rescued cats and dogs.

Mary Beth and David Zeitlen of Orchard Hill in south Charlotte attended last year’s fundraiser, where they met a rescued boxer mix, Charlie. They fell in love with him, and adopted him shortly after.

Beth described the organization as “more than excellent,” and Charlie as a wonderfully unifying addition to their family.

Susan Fludgate, chairwoman of Animals First, said last year’s fundraiser brought in $4,000. This year, she said, it’s not the total that matters most but how much awareness is generated for the organization and its need for foster families.

Fludgate, who lives in Weddington with her husband, nine rescued cats and one rescued boxer, said, “The more foster families we have, the more lives we can save.”

Animals First has 10 foster families who volunteer to take care of the rescued cats and dogs until they find a permanent home. Fludgate said that Animals First, unlike most other organizations, provides crates, food, litter, flea prevention and all the necessary tools to care for the animals.

Fosters usually house the animal for approximately one month until they are adopted, she said.

Since 2013, Animals First has adopted more than 100 cats and dogs to families in the Charlotte area. The goal is to work with the local shelters that need the most help, such as Lancaster and York animal shelters, and animals facing death at those shelters.

“Once rescue is in your blood, you can’t get away from it,” said Fludgate, receptionist at Curtsinger Animal Hospital in Indian Land.

Fludgate, Laura Minsk and Theresa Ronayne – the founders of Animals First, who call themselves the rescue sisters – have been rescuing cats and dogs for more than 20 years. They met while working with other local rescue organizations.

In November 2012, the three decided to start a rescue organization in which, Fludgate said, the animals were always the first priority.

“The camaraderie that Laura, Theresa and I have … we feel like we are giving back, with our knowledge and experience, and it helps the community … in honor of the ones we save and in memory of those that have to be put down,” she said.

For more information about Animals First Rescue of the Carolinas by visiting,