Last Thursday, locals flocked to the Melting Pot on Grove Street for food and fun: all to benefit local furry friends.

Pet Animal Welfare Society of Norwalk, better known as PAWS, hosted a fund-raising night where diners could choose from a prix-fixe menu and have a portion of the cost donated to PAWS. PAWS volunteers were also on hand for raffles, auctions and the sale of merchandise.

Posters of available pets lined the walls while diners enjoyed a four-course meal. The eatery was booked, and patrons waited more than an hour-and-a-half to be seated. This meant more donations for PAWS, which was the goal of the night.

"This is a fantastic turnout for a Thursday night," said James Layfield, owner of the Melting Pot in Darien. "We're always looking to help out local organizations."

Menu choices included different types of cheese fondue, salads, entrees and chocolate fondue desserts. A special drink menu featured fruity concoctions with animal-inspired names. Diners made their way over to the bar area, where they could purchase PAWS merchandise; leashes, keychains and water bowls were on display as well as information about available pets.

The Melting Pot was happy to host PAWS and their supporters. "We try to do a number of benefits per year," said Layfield. "We put together a menu, do a raffle or auction, sell items and get the information out."

PAWS appreciated the effort the Melting Pot made on their behalf.

"They're very supportive of causes," said Cissy Tiernan, a PAWS volunteer who was one of the event organizers. "Animal lovers contacted us about doing an event with them. We fund-raise for people to get educated about the need for adopting from shelters. The more people know about PAWS, the better."

PAWS, a non-profit organization, was founded in 1962 by Westport resident Betty Long to rescue homeless animals and place them in permanent homes. According to its statistics, PAWS rescues and places approximately 115 dogs and 435 cats in homes annually. They are located in Norwalk, where they house hundreds of animals at any given time.

The event was a success for PAWS.

"It's been fantastic," said Tiernan. "Probably 80 percent of the people are here because of PAWS. It's more than we could have hoped for."

Paws raised $2,744 from the event.

"We were very happy with that," said PAWS Director Adrienne Statfeld. "The economy has hit us hard. We were very pleased with [the funds] and we appreciate the support of the Melting Pot and the community."

The donations will go toward immediate facility needs.

"The money is going toward the general fund -- vet bills, supplies, things it takes to run the shelter," Stratfeld said. "It helps us to save the lives of homeless animals. We appreciate the fact that the Melting Pot and the community stepped forward to support the idea of supporting homeless animals. At PAWS, we try to help as much as we can."