The ASPCA Humane Awards honor animals who have been heroic in their extraordinary efforts and individuals who expressed a strong commitment to animal welfare throughout the last year. The winners, chosen by a committee appointed by the ASPCA, are:
ASPCA® Dog of the Year: Jonny Justice
In 2007, Bad Newz Kennels was under investigation for dog fighting (resulting in NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s conviction, among others). During the investigation, 49 dogs that had suffered terrible cruelty were rescued. One of those dogs was Jonny Justice, a black and white pit bull. The ASPCA assisted with forensic evidence recovery and analysis. They also led a team of certified applied animal behaviorists who evaluated the dogs. It was determined Jonny hadn’t had much, if any, good interactions with other dogs or people. But he deserved a second chance. He got one when Cris Cohen and Jennifer Long became his foster parents. Adjusting to being a loved pet, he soon showed how much he loved interactions with children. In 2008 he became a therapy dog. He visits terminally ill children and their families and helps other children with their literacy skills by being a nonjudgmental ear as they read to him. Jonny Justice’s story has spread, resulting in a line of plush toys.
ASPCA® Cat of the Year: Studley
Studley only weighed four pounds, his white fur completely matted. The Joint Animal Services discovered him on the roadside in 2006. He was emaciated, sick and close to dying of starvation. A shelter volunteer adopted him anyway and nursed him back to health. It was then that Studley turned to helping others. As a therapy cat – the only one of over 30 pets in the Providence Animal-Assisted Activities and Therapy program – he regularly visits psychiatric patients at the Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Wash.
ASPCA® Tommy P. Monahan Kid of the Year: Annika Glover
For almost four years, 11-year-old Annika Glover has battled Medulloblastoma, a type of cancerous brain tumor. When she was 9, she participated in the Make-A-Wish program. Her wish was to save animals in need. The Alabama Make-A-Wish chapter granted Annika’s wish, donating $7,000 in her name to Pets Are Worth Saving, a rescue group in Florence, Ala. “I wanted to help animals a whole bunch. I grew up around animals and love them so much,” Annika said, according to the press release. In August 2014, Annika’s cancer was declared in remission. (This award is dedicated to Tommy P. Monahan who lost his life in a house fire trying to save his pet; he was 9 years old.)
ASPCA® Henry Bergh Award: Lori Weise, Downtown Dog Rescue
Lori Weise used to see numerous stray dogs on her way to work. They were abused and neglected, the effects of which clearly visible. Compelled to help, she, along with her coworkers, created Downtown Dog Rescue in the back of her furniture factory. They rescued animals and cared for them; some had never been shown compassion before. Volunteer-based Downtown Dog Rescue has evolved in to a large charity that helps underserved communities in Watts, Compton and South East L.A. as well as rescues dogs. There is now a kennel at Downtown Dog Rescue large enough for 35 dogs and free spay/neuter surgeries have been provided to over 10,000 dogs in the L.A. area. In 2013, Lori and Downtown Dog Rescue started the South L.A. Shelter Intervention Program to provide pet parents the resources they need to keep their pets rather than give them up to a shelter (she’s helped over 13,000 dogs and cats stay in their homes).
ASPCA® Presidential Service Award: Congressman Jim Moran
Congressman Jim Moran has been a longtime Congressional ally to animals. His dedication to ending animal suffering and cruelty never wavered. As a twelve-term Congressman, Representative Moran fought for animal welfare. He introduced a bill to stop U.S. cosmetics companies from using test animals, advocated ending horse slaughtering and cracked down on abusive animal fighting. Rep. Moran worked with legislators as co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Animal Protection Caucus and hosted a series of Paws for Celebration events with the ASPCA. He retires from Congress this year, but because of him animal welfare discussion is prominent in our government and his work will protect animals for years to come.
ASPCA® Public Service Award: William J. Bratton & the New York City Police Department
The ASPCA and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) have partnered to enforce anti-cruelty laws and to provide New York City’s pets more protection. The NYPD’s role in the partnership includes responding to every animal cruelty complaint throughout the city. The ASPCA has expanded its direct care support for animals who are victims of cruelty; these animals receive treatment for any medical issues, behavior assessment and rehabilitation, housing and placement. In the partnership’s first six months, the NYPD made 70 arrests and the ASPCA rescued and treated almost 200 animals. This past summer, the NYPD formed their first ever Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad. The squad’s only focus is the animals in NYC who have suffered abuse and neglect.
“The 2014 Humane Awards winners represent stories of tremendous courage and determination, but also remind us how important animals are to our lives, and the care and protection we can give them in return,” ASPCA President & CEO Matthew Bershadker said in a press release. “We are proud to honor these winners, and hope their journeys inspire more humane action across the country.”
The winners will be honored at a luncheon at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City on Nov. 13. The event is sponsored by Hartville Pet Insurance Group, Inc.
If you know a pet or person who has been extraordinary, please share their story with us on our Facebook page.
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