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Thursday, August 11, 2022
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Paws and pin-ups

CowPok Piercing and Tattoo hosts its annual animal shelter fundraiser

<p>Tattoo artist Marc Lavey admires his flash tattoo on UB alumni Rachel Robert at CowPok Piercing and Tattoos’ annual fundraiser.</p>

Tattoo artist Marc Lavey admires his flash tattoo on UB alumni Rachel Robert at CowPok Piercing and Tattoos’ annual fundraiser.

Tattoo culture has gone to the dogs. Literally.

CowPok Piercing and Tattoo hosted its third-annual fundraiser for the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter on Saturday. Patrons could pick off of a flash tattoo sheet of 13 different designs. CowPok donated half of all the proceeds from the flash sheet to the city’s animal shelter. The artists tattooed 59 flash designs throughout the day and raised roughly $3,000, according to CowPok manager Sarah Gravino. Roughly 1,700 people responded to CowPok’s Facebook event saying they were interested and over 100 people responded with guarantees that they would attend the fundraiser. 

Tattoo enthusiasts and animal lovers began lining up at the Allentown location at 11:30 a.m. The event began at noon and ran until 10 p.m. on a first-come-first-serve basis. The flash designs included eight animal-themed tattoos like the iconic pets from “The Simpsons” and buffalos. It also included five general flash designs like flowers and a knife. Pricing depended on the tattoo’s size and color. The flash sheet began at $80 and increased depending on preference.

Marc Lavey, a resident tattoo artist, has worked at CowPok for four years and participated in the event.

“Everybody [employed at CowPok] has a pet, so we all relate to the cause. I actually adopted my cat from the City’s animal shelter,” Lavey said. “They really need the donations to help give the best care to the animals they take in.”

The original CowPok Piercing and Tattoo has been open for 27 years and currently has two locations in Williamsville and Allentown. CowPok employs three tattoo artists and two piercing specialists at the Allentown location. The shop prides itself in having one of the largest collections of fine body jewelry in Western New York. It is also known for its annual semicolon tattoo fundraiser. 

Some patrons chose to get their first tattoo at the event.

Rachel Roberts, a UB alum, chose a lilac flash design for her first tattoo.

“I know I could’ve picked my own idea and just donated to the animal shelter, but I’m really indecisive. The flash sheet helped me a lot and I’m really happy with my tattoo,” Roberts said. “I think the fundraiser helped because I love animals, but it was really just a coincidence.”

The studio began partnering with the Buffalo animal shelter in 2017. It encouraged patrons to bring donation items like canned food and other pet-related products for the shelter. CowPok also conducted a raffle throughout the day with a variety of prizes.

Kayla Romanini, a sophomore animal behavior major, arrived early in order to avoid long lines throughout the day.

“I first saw this event on Facebook around the same time that I decided I wanted another tattoo. I think that it’s really great that they’re working with the shelter,” Romanini said. “I have two dogs myself.”

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The City of Buffalo Animal Shelter is a non-profit organization that relies on volunteers and donations. It provides food, care, shelter and comfort to local dogs and cats before finding them the perfect forever home. Anna Beall, a resident piercing specialist, recalled how the shelter is significant to many of the studio’s artists.

“We’re all huge animal lovers here. Our manager, Sarah, volunteers and fosters for the animal shelter,” Beall said. “We try to do a couple events like this a year. We really want to help small business and local charities. We all really want to support our community.”

Samantha Vargas is the senior features editor and can be reached at and on Twitter @SamMarieVargas. 


 Samantha Vargas is an English/ film studies double major with a minor in media study. She spends her free time finding shows around buffalo and hanging out with her cat. 



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