Area residents hoping to combine their love of pets and chocolate will have their chance as the Humane Society of Faulkner County will host its 18th annual Chocoholics Dream Night Out on Friday.

The event, which will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 1610 Prince St., will feature all-you-can-eat chocolate dishes, a silent auction and the chance to learn more about the organization and its programs. Attendees will also have the opportunity to meet some of the humane society’s adoptable pets during the fundraiser.

A new edition to this year’s event, which is the organization’s signature fundraiser, is emcee Melissa Dunbar-Gates, as well as live music by Brittany Conine.

Dunbar-Gates, who can be seen on Today’s THV This Morning, first became involved with the Humane Society of Faulkner County after her twins had their photo made with Santa Claus during one of the organization’s fundraisers last year. Her love for animals drew her to the group.

"We’re animal lovers, and big on rescue animals," Dunbar-Gates said.

After finding a litter of stray kittens under her house, Dunbar-Gates said her eyes were opened to the stray animal problem facing Conway and Faulkner County.

"We’re always willing to take and help these animals," Dunbar-Gates said. "The humane society is definitely a organization everybody needs to support. At some point, everyone encounters a sick or stray animal. We want them all to have homes."

Working with organizations like the Humane Society of Faulkner County, Dunbar-Gates is able to carry on the work started by her good friend Anne Pressly, the Little Rock television news anchor who was murdered in October 2008.

"Anne Pressly was big on helping animals," Dunbar-Gates said. "I want to carry that on."

Dunbar-Gates, along with other volunteers and area restaurants, will be preparing and providing chocolate dishes for sample at the fundraiser. Dunbar hopes her grandmother’s two-layer topping brownies will be a favorite among event-goers.

"I’m so excited to make this recipe," Dunbar-Gates said. "I love to bake with family traditions.

"My grandma made these brownies for my mom when she was in college. She makes them every time we go to visit her."

This year’s silent auction will include a variety of items from local artists and vendors, including fitness packages, custom pet dishes, handmade quilts, jewelry and art.

Tickets are on sale and available at Bark About It Boutique and Spa, 1310 Prince St., Companions Thrift Store, 2219 Washington Ave., and Companions Spay/Neuter Clinic at 589 Highway 65 North.

Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door for adults, $20 in advance or $25 at the door for couples and $5 in advance or $6 at the door for children. Kids under 4 years old will be admitted for free.

Take out will be available during the event for $15 per pound.

All proceeds from Chocoholics Dream Night Out will benefit the humane society’s low-cost spay/neuter program and foster/adoption program.

The Humane Society of Faulkner County’s mission is to improve the quality of life for animals through education, low-cost spay/neuter programs and foster/adoption programs that provide shelter and medical treatment, while finding safe, permanent homes for abused or neglected pets in the area. The Humane Society of Faulkner County receives funding from the contributions of individuals, grants and fundraisers.

For more information, contact Shirley at 501-730-1276.

Grandma’s Two Layer 

Topping Brownies


elissa Dunbar-Gates

Bake any brownies, homemade or from a box.

After the brownies have cooled, apply the first topping.

1. Brown 3/8 cup of butter in a saucepan. Blend in three cups of sifted confectioners sugar. Stir in three tablespoons of milk and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla until smooth. Spread over brownies.

2. Melt three ounces of unsweetened chocolate and three tablespoons of butter. Pour over top and spread by tilting the pan back and forth. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

(Staff writer Stephanie Fischer can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 505-1238. Send us your news at