ASPCA Celebrates 2010 Humane Awards

November 13, 2010 | By Amy Lieberman | 5 comments

2010 Humane Award winners, featuring Pearl, the Dog of the Year. (Photo Courtesy of ASPCA)

Awards shine attention on rescue dogs, youth efforts.

When one black Labrador puppy kept running away from her Los Angeles home, her owners eventually turned her over to an animal shelter. Little did they know her spirit and determination were just two of the traits that would make her a prime search and rescue dog and go on to win the ASPCA’s dog of the year award for 2010.

Pearl, a three-year-old Lab who completed her second mission in Haiti following the earthquake there in January, stood among the humans that the ASPCA awarded Thursday, Nov. 11, for their exceptional dedication and efforts to improving the lives of animals.

The animal winners, Pearl and Henry, a three-legged cat, pulled their own weight, showing people the capacity that animals have to affect change.

“People often don’t realize the capacity of what you might think of as just your average dog,” said ASPCA President Ed Sayres. “They might see a dog like Pearl in a shelter and not realize that she could go in to save lives.”

This year’s Humane Awards show, held in midtown Manhattan, offered a showcase of equally poignant stories that led individuals to be selected out of nearly 300 nominees. But the event also placed animals within the larger context of two catastrophic events – the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, which killed more than 200,000 people and left more than 2 million homeless, and the spring oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that has caused massive damage to the eco-system and killed close to 7,000 animals.

Olivia Bouler, 11, heard about the oil spill shortly after it occurred in April and was “devastated,” she said, in part because of her personal connection to nature in the region. She is from Long Island, N.Y., but grew up visiting her grandparents at their home along the Gulf Coast in Alabama.

“I decided to raise money for the Audubon Society by giving my artwork to people who donated money,” Olivia told Zootoo shortly before she was awarded the Tommy P. Monahan Kid of the Year award.

Olivia’s campaign, Save the Gulf, has been supported by nearly 30,000 people and has raised more than $180,000. Next up for the 6th grader is a book that is coming out this April, which she said is going to take her artwork “to the next level.”

“It’s going to be a field guide about birds to bring bird awareness because they are really important to the eco-system,” she said.

Olivia shared the stage with Pearl, the bouncy, playful dog of the year who got serious when she helped rescue 12 people over the course of 17 days in Haiti.

“She got into tight areas, tight spots that we wouldn’t have been able to reach in collapsed buildings, and she did her job and came home safely,” said her handler, Ron Horetski, of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. “I was very impressed and we were all proud of her for what she did.”

Henry, who took home the spot of cat of the year, wasn’t able to make an in-person appearance. But his owner, Cathy Conheim, of Julian, Ca., recounted how what was once a stray, wounded kitten that eventually had his leg amputated turned into a worldwide inspiration. Conheim and Henry have co-authored several children’s books, including “What’s the Matter with Henry?” and “What About Me, I’m Here Too,” all speaking to living with a physical disability or any other differences. They have been distributed to families of wounded soldiers, Hurricane Katrina, and translated into Creole for Haitian children.

The ASPCA’s public service award went to the firefighters of Ladder 116 in Queens, N.Y., which saved 30 dogs and cats from a fire in May in a pet store. Sam Simon, the co-founder of the TV show “The Simpsons” took home the presidential service award for his work with the Sam Simon Foundation. It offers a mobile clinic for free spay/neuter and life-saving surgeries and certifies shelter dogs to serve as companions for the deaf, heard of hearing and veterans, among other services.

Simon shared the award with the Animals Rescue Flights, which coordinates air transportation for animals in overcrowded shelters through the help of more than 700 volunteer pilots.

And the ASPCA awarded the Henry Bergh award to Kathleen Schwartz-Howe of Days End Horse Rescue Inc., which rehabilitates 50 to 70 unwanted or abused horses at any given time.

What do you think of these animal heroes? Do you know of someone deserving of a Humane Award? Tell us your thoughts below!

Comments (5)

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Sarah  W.
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Sarah W.
3 years ago

Awesome stories (:

Good Point | Reply ›

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