I read an article about this year’s ASPCA awards and was touched by the winners’s stories, both human and non-human. I hope their well deserved awards touch you in some way as well.
The canine companion of a boy with autism and the founder of an organization that has rescued over 8,000 dogs were among those recognized at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Humane Awards Luncheon. Held Nov. 21 in New York City and sponsored by the Hartville Group Inc. the ceremony honored animals and people who made a positive, lasting impact during the past year.
“This year’s Humane Awards winners not only exemplify our mission of preventing cruelty to animals, but bring greater awareness to the unique and meaningful bond between humans and their pets,” says Matthew Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA, an animal welfare organization based in NYC. The 2013 honorees include:
Dog of the Year: Xena, a 1-year -old pit bull-type from DeKalb County, Ga., went from being a malnourished puppy abandoned in someone’s yard to the companion of 8-year-old Jonny Hickey, who has autism. Jonny used to rarely communicate with others and preferred solitary activities, but his connection with Xena has brought out his playfulness, singing voice, and willingness to talk. The two have worked to spread a message of compassion for animals and those with autism throughout the world.
Tommy P. Monahan, Kid of the Year: Six-year-old Catherine Hubbard had natural ability to care for and connect with animals, even designing her own business cards and appointing herself head of “Catherine’s Animal Shelter.” She was one of 20 children killed during the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Catherine’s parents chose to honor her love for animals by requesting that donations be made to The Animal Center in Newtown, which is hoping to build an animal sanctuary in her honor.
Henry Bergh Award: Theresa Strader is founder and executive director of National Mill Dog Rescue, a Colorado nonprofit that has rescued more than 8,000 puppy mill survivors since its founding in February 2007. She lost her home- the original site of the organization- during a wildfire in June 2013, but was on the road within weeks to rescue more dogs.
The other three winners were Koshka, a feline who struck up a friendship with Staff Sgt. Jesse Knott at a base in Afghanistan and received the Cat of the Year prize (pictured here); ABC News co-anchor and correspondent Dan Harris, who has worked to raise awareness of animal welfare issues in the U.S. and received the Presidential Service Award for Media Excellence; and Master Patrolman Dion R. Dundovich, Sgt. Bruce W. Houston, and Special Agent Karen J. Smilgis, who played key roles in investigating and raiding a large dogfighting operation in three states in March 2013 and shared the Public Service Award.
A nice reminder of those animals and people who can, and have, made a difference in each others’ lives. Dr. Dawn