updated 08/24/2009 AT 3:00 PM ET
•originally published 08/24/2009 AT 2:48 PM ET
When Jerry O’Connell arrived at a fund-raising event in Los Angeles on Saturday night, he kept his date on a short leash. “We’re doing the red carpet together,” he told reporters about Laura, a rescued black Labrador mix looking for a forever home, at Much Love Animal Rescue & Secure-A-Pet’s summer fund-raiser, Bow Wow WOW Howlywood.
O’Connell, whose wife Rebecca Romijn was home with their 7-month-old twin daughters Dolly and Charlie, was one of a slew of pet-loving celebs who came out to support Much Love’s mission to rescue stray animals scheduled to be euthanized from shelters and find them new homes.
Denise Richards, Tori Spelling, Grey’s Anatomy’s Sara Ramirez and Ghost Whisperer star Camryn Manheim were also making their voices heard, along with Priscilla Presley, who was honored for her work saving horses at Graceland, a safe haven for neglected and rehabilitating horses who would otherwise be slaughtered.
Richards told PEOPLE Pets she shares Much Love’s goal of saving stray animals – and simply can’t say no when she sees their little faces. “I’ve always been that way,” says the actress and reality star, who’s adopted a virtual pack of rescue dogs over the years. “Ever since I was little I always brought home every little stray dog who didn’t have a home. I’m not going to change. My daughters love animals as well, so I can’t help it. I’ve tried!”
For Tori Spelling, supporting the cause is about educating the public about spaying, neutering and puppy mills – where dogs are overbred in cruel conditions and generally end up in pet stores. “My late pug, Mimi La Rue, 11 years ago I bought her at a pet store,” Spelling admitted. “I didn’t know better. You can’t hold people accountable when they aren’t aware. I learned about this organization and saw the number of people who abandon their animals, people who don’t spay and neuter, and it’s growing because now with the economy people can’t afford to take care of their animals.”
Guests at the outdoor event – where several dogs up for adoption milled about on leashes – dined on a vegetarian buffet of butternut squash ravioli, mashed potatoes, grilled veggies and, for dessert, cheesecake on a stick and coffee crme brulee. And while a trio of comedians took turns entertaining the crowd, a silent auction raised money for the cause. Thousands of dollars were raised at the event – a sweet and successful event indeed!
See more photos from the event on PEOPLE Pets!