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ASPCA Announces Winners of the 2010 Humane Awards


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*Don’t miss the video of Pearl’s story at the end of this post
Seven outstanding animals and people, including a former shelter dog who saved earthquake victims in Haiti and an 11-year-old girl who raised funds to help birds affected by the Gulf Coast oil spill, will be honored for their heroic deeds at this year’s ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) Humane Awards Luncheon in New York City.

“The ASPCA Humane Award winners have demonstrated extraordinary courage and compassion in the face of adversity from natural disasters to man-made crises,” said ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres.  “The ASPCA is proud to honor those who have dedicated their lives to strengthening the human-animal bond.”

The ASPCA’s Annual Humane Awards Luncheon—sponsored by The Hartville Group, one of America’s oldest pet health insurers—will be held on Thursday, November 11, from noon to 2 p.m. at the Pierre Hotel in New York City.  The ceremony recognizes animal heroes who have demonstrated extraordinary efforts, as well as individuals who have made a significant impact on the lives of animals during the past year.

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 2010 ASPCA Humane Award winners are:

ASPCA Dog of the Year

A 4-year-old black Labrador retriever named Pearl was surrendered by her owner to a local animal shelter and joined the thousands of animals without a home.  Luckily, Pearl was discovered by volunteers from the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) based in Ojai, Calif., and quickly completed her training and certification as a search dog.  In July 2008, she met her handler and life companion, Ron Horetski of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

On July 14, 2010, Horetski and Pearl were deployed as part of the Los Angeles County Task Force 2 (CA-TF2) team to save victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.  The CA-TF2 team spent over two weeks in Haiti; Horetski and Pearl, along with six other SDF canine disaster search teams, spent hours each day searching for victims trapped alive under the rubble.  Pearl and the other SDF teams dug through concrete and debris—as far as four stories below the surface—and helped bring 12 people to safety.  For her remarkable work and dedication to others, Pearl is a true canine hero and a great example of a rescued dog who is now working to rescue others.

ASPCA Cat of the Year

When Cathy Conheim found Henry as a stray kitten on her property in Julian, Calif., he was unable to move his left leg.  Conheim rushed Henry to the local veterinary hospital where she learned that his leg had to be amputated.  Once Henry recovered from surgery, he became Conheim’s inspiration.  The two began working together to help people learn tolerance and resilience in the face of physical disabilities and differences.  The pair created several children’s workbooks and books, “Henry’s World,” “What’s the Matter with Henry?” and “What About Me, I’m Here Too,” which have been distributed to more than 45,000 people around the world, including victims of Hurricane Katrina and families of wounded veterans.  Additionally, one of Henry’s books has been translated into Creole to help a children’s amputee project in Haiti.  To date, Henry’s books have generated more than $50,000 for local animal welfare groups to help other animals in need.

ASPCA “Tommy P. Monahan” Kid of the Year, sponsored by The Twisted Whiskers Show

After the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20 and triggered the worst oil spill in U.S. history, 11-year old Olivia Bouler came up with a novel idea to help birds affected in the Gulf Coast.  An artistically gifted sixth-grader from Islip, N.Y., Olivia began creating original watercolor illustrations and made a commitment to create up to 500 drawings to raise funds and awareness for wildlife affected by the disaster.  Her concept was simple: make a donation to Audubon, a non-profit group dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife in their habitats, and she would send an original watercolor illustration to thank the donor for supporting her cause.  AOL, a leading-edge web services company, has signed on to help promote Olivia’s cause by distributing a limited edition print to anyone who donates to her fundraiser.  Her campaign and Facebook page, “Save the Gulf: Olivia’s Bird Illustrations,” have been supported by nearly 30,000 people across the country and raised more than $180,000 for various organizations that provide wildlife disaster relief.

This award is dedicated to Tommy P. Monahan, a 9-year-old Staten Island boy who perished in 2007 trying to save his pet from a house fire.

ASPCA Public Service Award

It was supposed to be a quiet Memorial Day in Queens, N.Y., as most of the shops in the neighborhood—including pet store U.S. Pet Discounts—were closed for the holiday.  It was a different story for the animals inside U.S. Pet Discounts.  When something caught fire in the back of the store, triggering the fire alarm, firefighters of Ladder 116 responded quickly to the pet store fire, cutting through the gates and locked doors.  Thanks to the quick response of the firefighters of Ladder 116, 30 cats and dogs were saved from this frightening incident.

ASPCA Henry Bergh Award

Inspired by the neglect she witnessed at a local horse stable, Kathleen Schwartz-Howe and her family made the commitment to help save equines in her community and founded Days End Farm Horse Rescue, Inc. (Days End) in Woodbine, Md.  This volunteer-based, non-profit organization is dedicated to the care and treatment of horses through intervention, education, and outreach.  Under Schwartz-Howe’s leadership, Days End has expanded from an 18-acre facility to a 58-acre facility, rescuing and rehabilitating 50 to 70 unwanted, abused, or neglected horses at any given time.  Schwartz-Howe has worked tirelessly on behalf of equine welfare, from urging Maryland officials to require proper licensing for equine rescues, to forming a group called Maryland Association of Rescues and Equine Sanctuaries to discuss various equine-related issues.  She also saw the need to provide resources and training for animal control officers, firefighters, and other rescue personnel in methods of equine rescue, and hosted various seminars and courses at Days End.  It has been Schwartz-Howe’s mission to address equine cruelty in the community, and she has worked locally and nationally with many animal welfare groups on animal cruelty cases.

Days End is an invaluable resource for Maryland’s animal welfare agencies and Schwartz-Howe has always lent a helping hand in the rescue and rehabilitation of abused horses.  Her devotion to promoting equine welfare has set a high standard for animal welfare groups across the country and she continues to save equines in any way she can.

ASPCA Presidential Service Awards (two award recipients)

Sam Simon, The Sam Simon Foundation

Sam Simon is the founder of the Sam Simon Foundation in Sherman Oaks, Calif., an organization with a mission to “save the lives of dogs and to enrich the lives of people.”  The Sam Simon Foundation’s Assistance Dog Program saves at-risk dogs from shelters and trains them to become certified assistance dogs, who are then paired with deaf people and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.   Simon has also established a highly successful mobile spay/neuter clinic, which is the largest provider of free spay and neuter services to low-income pet owners in Los Angeles.  To date, the mobile clinic has performed over 35,000 spay/neuter surgeries.  The foundation is funded entirely by Simon himself to make a positive impact on the lives of animals.

Simon is a critically-acclaimed television writer, producer, and director of “Taxi,” “Cheers,” “The Tracey Ullman Show,” “The Drew Carey Show,” and “The Simpsons,” which he co-created.  He is the recipient of eleven Emmys and a Peabody award.

Julia Ryan & Clark Burgard, Animal Rescue Flights

Animal Rescue Flights (ARF) was created by two skilled pilots who wanted to volunteer their skills to help save homeless animals at risk.  ARF is a non-profit, charitable organization established by Julia Ryan and Clark Burgard in Norwalk, Conn., to transport unwanted animals from shelters to other parts of the country where people are waiting to adopt them.  ARF has helped pilots efficiently arrange animal transport services from state to state, saving a few animals at a time and taking them for the ride of their lives in the sky.

Ryan’s and Burgard’s work to coordinate flight plans and safely transport homeless animals to their permanent homes has made a significant impact on the lives of shelter animals nationwide.

About the ASPCA®

Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first humane organization established in the Americas and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animal welfare. One 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. The ASPCA, which is headquartered in New York City, offers a wide range of programs, including a mobile clinic outreach initiative, its own humane law enforcement team, and a groundbreaking veterinary forensics team and mobile animal CSI unit. For more information, please visit

To become a fan of the ASPCA on Facebook, go to To follow the ASPCA on Twitter, go to

This is the true story of Pearl, a homeless dog that became part of a search and rescue team through the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation. The book was created by Allyn Lee and Connie Forslind’s second grade class at Rancho Romero School in Alamo, California. The student’s heartfelt illustrations speak for themselves.

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