ASPCA announces 2014 Dog of the Year
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– were honored at this year’s ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) Humane Awards Luncheon in New York City on November 13th. The ceremony recognized 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 was sponsored by the Hartville Pet Insurance Group, Inc., one of America’s oldest pet health insurers and provider of ASPCA Pet Health Insurance.
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:
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.
ASPCA Cat of the Year
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.
ASPCA® Tommy P. Monahan Kid of the Year
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.
About the ASPCA®
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first animal welfare organization in North America and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animals. More than two million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. For more information, please visit www.ASPCA.org, and be sure to follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Photo credit: Clint Spaulding/Patrick McMullan