ASPCA Announces 2014 Humane Award Winners
A group of outstanding animals and people – including a therapy cat, a 10-year-old girl with a special wish, a twelve-term Congressman and a resilient pit bull– will be honored at this year’s ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) Humane Awards Luncheon in New York City. The ceremony recognizes animal heroes who have demonstrated extraordinary efforts as well as individuals who have shown great commitment to animal welfare during the past year.
“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,” said ASPCA President & CEO Matthew Bershadker. “We are proud to honor these winners, and hope their journeys inspire more humane action across the country.”
The ASPCA’s annual Humane Awards Luncheon is sponsored by the Hartville Pet Insurance Group, Inc., one of America’s oldest pet health insurers and provider of ASPCA Pet Health Insurance. This special event will be held on Thursday, November 13, 2014, from noon to 2 p.m. at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City.
Following a nationwide public call for nominations, an ASPCA-appointed committee reviewed hundreds of entries and selected winners in six categories. The 2014 ASPCA Humane Award winners are:
Weighing a mere four pounds and covered in matted fur, Studley the cat was found abandoned along the side of the road by Joint Animal Services in 2006. Though sick, emaciated and nearly starved to death, Studley was adopted and nursed back to health by one of the shelter volunteers. It’s at that point that 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 in the program 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, Wash. where’s he’s been offering comfort to patients primarily in the psychiatric unit since 2007.
Annika Glover, a selfless 11-year-old with an incredibly large heart, heroically chose to help animals in need while coping with her own medical struggle. Though Annika looks like a typical fifth grader, she has bravely battled a type of cancerous brain tumor called Medulloblastoma for nearly the last four years. At just nine years old, she was a participant in the Make-A-Wish program, she put her love for animals above her own human interests when she used 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, Ala. "I wanted to help animals a whole bunch. I grew up around animals and love them so much," said Annika. In her spare time, Annika enjoys volunteering, fostering animals and educating people about the importance of spaying and neutering their pets. In August 2014, Annika received remarkable news of her own: that her cancer was in remission.
*This award is dedicated to Tommy P. Monahan, a nine-year-old Staten Island boy who perished in a 2007 house fire trying to save his pet.
When Congressman Jim Moran announced that he would retire at the end of his term in 2014, it became clear that animals would lose a longtime ally in Congress. Representative Moran’s unwavering dedication to ending animal cruelty and suffering gave a compassionate voice to the voiceless in the halls of Congress. The twelve-term Congressman from Northern Virginia has been one of Capitol Hill’s strongest champions for animal welfare, advocating for causes including ending horrific horse slaughter, cracking down on abusive animal fighting, and introducing a bill to phase out animal testing for cosmetics in the United States. As co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, Rep. Moran worked with legislators on both sides of the aisle to create humane, common-sense legislation. Rep. Moran also worked with the ASPCA to host a series of “Paws for Celebration” events to showcase the work of shelters and rescues across the United States, and bring adoptable cats and dogs to Capitol Hill. Though he leaves Congress at the end of the year, Rep. Moran has brought the discussion of animal welfare to a place of prominence in the highest level of our government, and his tireless work has created a legacy that will protect animals well into the future.
During her daily commute eighteen years ago to a furniture factory on the edge of Skid Row in Los Angeles, Lori Weise routinely saw stray dogs suffering from terrible abuse and horrific neglect. Inspired to act, Lori and her coworkers created Downtown Dog Rescue in the back of her furniture factory to rescue animals from dangerous situations and care for them. For many animals, it was the first time they ever experienced compassion. Known as “The Pit Bull Lady,” Lori has evolved Downtown Dog Rescue into a large volunteer-based animal charity that rescues dogs and assists underserved communities in South East Los Angeles, Watts and Compton. Lori and Downtown Dog Rescue created the South L.A. Shelter Intervention Program in 2013, providing pet owners resources to keep their pets rather than relinquish them to the South L.A. Animal Shelter. Downtown Dog Rescue now has its own kennel with room for 35 dogs, and has provided free spay/neuter surgeries for more than 10,000 dogs in the Los Angeles area. Lori has also helped almost 13,000 dogs and cats stay in their homes and avoid being placed in shelters. Lori’s selfless and nonjudgmental philosophy continues to break down obstacles and change the landscape for animal welfare in these Los Angeles communities.
Jonny Justice was one of 49 dogs rescued from unimaginable cruelty as part of the 2007 Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting investigation, which resulted in the conviction of NFL quarterback Michael Vick and others. The ASPCA played a central role in the investigation, assisting with the recovery and analysis of forensic evidence from Vick’s property, and leading a team of certified applied animal behaviorists to evaluate the rescued dogs. A black and white pit bull, who had little or no positive interactions with people or other dogs, Jonny 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 receiving medical treatment (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 inspirational comeback from the horrors of dog fighting to work as a therapy dog has traveled far and wide, even inspiring a line of plush toys that extend his ability to touch children across the country.
Following a successful 2013 pilot program in the Bronx, the ASPCA and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) announced the full rollout of their strategic and pioneering partnership to enforce anti-cruelty laws and provide enhanced protection to New York City’s animals in every borough. In this partnership, the NYPD responds to all animal cruelty complaints city-wide, while the ASPCA provides expanded direct care support for animal cruelty victims, including medical treatment, behavior assessments and rehabilitation, as well as housing and placement. The partnership has proven to be a powerful force, evidenced recently by the July raid of an alleged dog fighting ring in Queens, resulting in three arrests and the seizure of 20 dogs. The first six months of the partnership from January through June 2014 saw great success with 70 arrests by the NYPD and nearly 200 animals rescued and treated by the ASPCA, an increase of nearly 160 percent and 180 percent, respectively, over the same period last year. This past summer, the NYPD made history by officially forming the department’s first Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad, which will solely focus on serving the abused and neglected animals of the city.