NEW YORK--Seven outstanding animals and people--including a badly burned cat who refused to abandon her kittens and a six-year-old boy who raised more than $28,000 for his local animal shelter--will be honored at this year's ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) Humane Awards Luncheon in New York City. The ceremony recognizes animal heroes as well as individuals who have made a significant impact on the lives of animals during the past year.
"The ASPCA is humbled by the commitment and compassion displayed by this year's Humane Awards winners," said ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. "The distinguished achievements of these advocates are prime examples of the ASPCA's mission of preventing cruelty to animals. This year's event will be a celebration of all that has been done to bring us closer to our goal while reminding us that there is still much work ahead."
The ASPCA's Annual Humane Awards Luncheon--sponsored by the Hartville Group, Inc., one of America's oldest pet health insurers and provider of ASPCA Pet Health Insurance--will be held on Thursday, November 17, from noon to 2 p.m. at the Pierre Hotel in New York City.
Following a nationwide call to the public for nominations in February, an ASPCA-appointed committee reviewed hundreds of entries and selected winners in six categories.
The 2011 ASPCA Humane Award winners are:
ASPCA Dog of the Year
A beautiful Golden Retriever named Ricochet was chosen as a puppy to be a service dog for a person with a disability, but as she advanced through her training program, the fun-loving pup developed an affinity for chasing birds, putting her future as a service dog in jeopardy. Refusing to give up on her, Ricochet's owner Judy Fridono soon discovered that her dog's talents for patience, balance and coordination were better suited for a life riding the waves. On August 20, 2009, Ricochet was surfing next to Patrick Ivison, a quadriplegic surfer, and decided to abandon her board and jump onto his as they neared the shoreline. Ricochet's true life mission was revealed: She is now a 'SURFice' dog for disabled surfers. Her fundraising initiative, Surfin' for Paws-abilities, allows Ricochet to act as a canine co-pilot for numerous adults and kids alike while raising money to help those in need. To date, Ricochet has helped raise more than $125,000 for more than 150 human and animal causes, including childhood special needs, arthritis, breast cancer, canine cancer and of course, animal rescue.
ASPCA Cat of the Year
On a cold night in Baltimore last January, two teenage boys trapped a young mother cat in a milk crate while she was nursing her kittens, doused her in lighter fluid and struck a match. The brave feline managed to escape from the crate, extinguish the fire and return to tend to her newborn kittens. Mittens, as she was named, was rescued by local police as well as Baltimore City Animal Control officers, and, along with her kittens, was brought to the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS), where she slowly recovered from the loss of her ears as well as third and fourth-degree burns covering 70 percent of her body. Despite her severe injuries, Mittens continued to care for her kittens during recovery and was very affectionate toward the BARCS staff. Mittens' inspiring story resulted in extensive media coverage and she became the unofficial face of the fight for animal protection laws in the state. Due, in part, to Mittens, the 2011 Maryland Congressional Session achieved unprecedented success as new laws were passed that had previously failed, finally giving a stronger voice to animals in need across Maryland. She now resides in the loving home of Cindy Wright, while the primary perpetrator in the case pled guilty to felony animal cruelty.
ASPCA "Tommy P. Monahan" Kid of the Year
Last year, Stevie Nelson's two black Labs went missing just two days before his fifth birthday, and he was completely crushed. His family searched tirelessly in their hometown of Tilden, Nebraska as well as across three states, hired an investigator and even offered a reward to anyone who might know of the dogs' whereabouts. Stevie's only birthday wish was to have his dogs back, but the beloved pets never turned up. Shortly after the holidays, after seeing an ASPCA television commercial, Stevie decided he wanted to help other needy animals find homes. Instead of asking for toys and games for his sixth birthday, he set out to raise $6,000 for the Northeast Nebraska Humane Society (NNHS), which was launching a capital campaign to build a new animal shelter. By his birthday on March 16, Stevie had surpassed his initial goal, and to date, he has raised more than $28,000 for NNHS to continue to help even more animals in need.
This award is dedicated to Tommy P. Monahan, a nine-year-old Staten Island boy who perished in 2007 trying to save his dog from a house fire.
ASPCA Public Service Award
A court-recognized expert on dog fighting who has testified before Congress, Sgt. David Hunt of the Franklin County Sheriff's Office in Columbus, Ohio has served as a leader in uncovering the link between animal cruelty and other serious crimes such as drug dealing, gambling and racketeering. Since 2002, Sgt. Hunt has executed 51 search warrants resulting in 67 felony dog fighting arrests. He has trained law enforcement officers in 28 states, and has been instrumental in demonstrating the value of investigating blood sports while also helping to shift the opinions and perspectives of law enforcement, law makers and other elected officials to take crimes against animals seriously.
ASPCA Henry Bergh Award
Headquartered in Brewster, New York, Green Chimneys was founded in 1947 by the Ross Family to help children with emotional, behavioral, social and learning challenges through educational and therapeutic services. A leader in animal-assisted activities, Green Chimneys operates an innovative special education school and residential treatment facility with programs to strengthen the emotional health and well being of children by promoting a harmonious relationship with animals and the environment. Today, the agency serves youth from New York State and western Connecticut and houses 200 farm animals, wildlife, horses and a small number of service dogs in training. The farm's domesticated animals are the root of Green Chimneys' treatment approach, in which trust is cultivated between all residents, human and animal alike.
ASPCA Presidential Service Awards (two recipients)
In 2009, Phoenix, a female pit bull, was doused with gasoline and set on fire in West Baltimore. After hearing about this horrific incident of animal cruelty, Caroline Griffin, who previously had a private law practice, devoted her life to advocating for changes in Baltimore's policies and procedures to better protect animals and prosecute their abusers. Caroline was appointed to chair a task force to examine the extent of animal abuse and neglect in the city and to develop ways to improve the coordination of all the agencies and individuals concerned about the problem. Her leadership of the Mayor's Anti-Animal Abuse Task Force led to heightened media and public awareness of animal issues and an unprecedented level of cooperation between groups. She has helped to create a dramatic change in the way the citizens and officials of Baltimore view our duties to protect animals. In recognition of the effectiveness of this task force, the Baltimore City Council in October 2010 officially voted to make it a permanent standing Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission, the first of its kind in the country. Through Caroline's unrelenting work, the Commission has not only helped Baltimore become a more humane community, but also serves as a model for other cities across the country.
Subaru of America, Inc.
Inspired by their customers, close to 70 percent of whom have a pet, Subaru has built a strong, long-term partnership with the ASPCA to help bring people and pets together. The company's unprecedented commitment to animal welfare has made a real difference in the lives of homeless pets. Through the Subaru "Love a Pet" Adoption Drive program, the ASPCA works with Subaru dealers across the country to team them up with local shelters to host co-branded 'Love a Pet' adoption events. Since the inception of the program in late 2008, hundreds of events have been conducted through Subaru's network of more than 600 dealerships, helping place thousands of animals in loving homes and raising awareness and desperately needed financial support for local animal welfare agencies.
Subaru's commitment goes well beyond funds to support a host of mission-centric initiatives, including their development of a Crime Scene Investigation vehicle customized to ASPCA specifications, cars for several partner communities and sponsorship of the National Spay Neuter Project and Team ASPCA.