The ASPCA’s annual Humane Awards Luncheon is one of the most exciting events of the year. It is our chance to honor and recognize the heroes—both animal and human—who have made a positive and lasting impact on the world of animal welfare, and this year’s winners are certainly worth celebrating!
The 2014 Humane Awards winners include:
ASPCA Cat of the Year
Studley the cat was found abandoned along the side of the road by Washington-based Joint Animal Services in 2006. Weighing a mere four pounds and covered in matted fur, Studley was sick, emaciated and nearly starved to death at the time of his rescue. After being nursed back to health by one of the shelter volunteers, Studley—a cheerful white-haired feline with one gold eye and one blue eye—became a therapy cat, giving love and comfort to people in need. Studley is the only therapy cat out of more than 30 animals in the Providence Animal-Assisted Activities and Therapy Program (PAAA/T), and has been a regular visitor to the Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Washington, where he’s been offering comfort to patients primarily in the psychiatric unit since 2007.
ASPCA Tommy P. Monahan Kid of the Year
Although Annika Glover looks like a typical fifth grader, the 11-year-old has bravely battled a type of cancerous brain tumor called Medulloblastoma for nearly the last four years. When she was just nine years old, Annika was a participant in the Make-A-Wish program, where she put her love for animals above her own human interests by using her one wish to save animals in need. This wish was granted by the Alabama chapter of Make-A-Wish, which donated $7,000 in Annika’s name to the Pets Are Worth Saving (P.A.W.S.) rescue group in Florence, Alabama. “I wanted to help animals a whole bunch. I grew up around animals and love them so much,” says Annika. In August 2014, Annika received remarkable news of her own: Her cancer was in remission.
ASPCA Dog of the Year
Jonny Justice was one of 49 dogs rescued from unimaginable cruelty in the 2007 Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting investigation, which resulted in a the conviction of NFL quarterback Michael Vick and others. A black and white pit bull, Jonny had had minimal positive interactions with people or other dogs at the time of his rescue, but was given a second chance when he was adopted by his foster parents, Cris Cohen and Jennifer Long. As Jonny adjusted to life as a typical pet, it became clear that he loved interacting with children. In 2008, he found his true calling as a therapy dog, and these days spends much of his time offering love and support to terminally ill children and their families. Jonny is also a champion for literacy and has participated in programs where children practice their language skills by reading aloud to him. The tale of Jonny’s comeback—from the horrors of dog fighting to the inspirational work of a therapy dog—has traveled far and wide, even inspiring a line of plush toys that extend his ability to comfort children across the country.
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama concluded sentencing today for eight individuals arrested during the second largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history in August 2013. The case was led by the United States Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who requested assistance from the ASPCA and HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) in the removal, transport, sheltering, medical and daily care of the animals seized during the raid. Sentences ranged from six months to eight years—which is the longest prison term ever handed down in a federal dog fighting case.
Throughout the hearing, U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins commented on the extreme cruelty committed both due to dog fighting and the conditions in which these dogs were forced to live. Judge Watkins further reiterated that the federal sentencing guidelines for dog fighting are wholly inadequate to address the seriousness of the crime. He estimated that the defendants had injured or killed between 420 to 640 dogs in the course of this dog fighting operation.
“These dogs lived in deplorable conditions, were emaciated, had parasites, ear infections, eye infections, heartworms, fleas and ticks,” stated U.S. Attorney George L. Beck, Jr. “Their living conditions constituted extraordinary cruelty. These dogs were also made to fight and, if they lost the fight, they were killed. I hope that these sentences demonstrate the seriousness of this crime and will deter others from committing these atrocities.”
Judge Watkins also ordered that after their release from prison, each defendant serve a three-year term of supervised release. While on supervised release, the defendants are prohibited from possessing dogs.
“This is truly a landmark case for the animal welfare community,” said Tim Rickey, Vice President of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response, who testified at the hearings. “We hope this case serves as a precedent for future dog fighting cases and sends a message to dog fighters everywhere that this crime will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
On August 23, 2013, The ASPCA and HSUS assisted the United States Attorney’s Office and FBI in seizing hundreds of dogs in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia. Many of the dogs seized during this case have finally moved on to the second chapters of their lives and were placed with various rescue groups across the country to be made available for adoption.
We believe that there will come a time when dog fighting is seen for what it really is: the shameful pastime of cowards. But until that day comes, we will continue to fight for the victims—so that they never have to fight again.
Attention animal lovers: November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month, and we’d love for you to consider giving a home to an older cat or dog in need. Animal shelters across the country are full of animals of all shapes, sizes, breeds and ages, but senior pets are typically the most difficult to place.
We’re on the brink of the holiday season, and we can’t think of a better time to provide a home for a shelter pet. Visit our Adopt section to find available senior dogs and cats near you, and help one less animal spend the holiday season in a shelter.
Are you the proud parent of a senior pet? Tell us in the comments!
November is Senior Pet Month at the ASPCA! To celebrate, we’ll be featuring some of our favorite adoptable senior pets all month long.
Snuggles is a sweet and social cat who enjoys lots of attention from her favorite people. This low maintenance girl loves to sleep and is happiest when snoozing on the couch by your side—but bring out her favorite toys and a few yummy treats, and she’ll be ready for playtime in no time!
Although Snuggles loves affection, she prefers not be picked up. We think she may become more comfortable with handling once she’s settled into her new home. This special girl suffers from a few medical conditions, but our Adoptions team is available to walk you through the best ways to manage her health needs. Snuggles would be thrilled to have your attention all to herself and would do best as the only cat in the household. Adopt Snuggles today!
Snuggles is available for adoption at the ASPCA Adoption Center. If you are interested in adopting, please call our Adoptions department in New York City at (212) 876-7700 ext. 4120. To learn more about Snuggles, please visit her profile page.