Animal and human heroes from across the nation to be honored for their outstanding contributions to animal welfare at luncheon in New York City
Every year, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) honors animal and human heroes who have gone above and beyond to make significant strides to improve animal welfare and make a difference in the lives of others. Exemplifying the ASPCA’s humane mission in their communities and around the world, this year’s 2022 ASPCA Humane Award recipients will be celebrated at the Humane Awards Luncheon, hosted by ASPCA supporter and NBC New York’s Chuck Scarborough, on Wednesday, October 12, in New York City.
“Our 2022 ASPCA Humane Award winners demonstrate the impact of combining compassion and commitment to assist animals in need, as well as the power of the human-animal bond,” said Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA. “We’re proud to honor these outstanding and inspiring animals, people, and organizations who share our mission to support vulnerable animals and those who care for them.”
Following a nationwide public call for nominations, an expert ASPCA committee selected winners in six categories, including Kid of the Year, Dog of the Year, Cat Advocate of the Year, the Equine Welfare Award, the Public Service Award, and the Henry Bergh Award, which is given to an individual or institution exhibiting exceptional leadership, compassion, and commitment to animal welfare.
This year’s honorees include:
- KID OF THE YEAR: Delanie Dennis (Tampa, FL)
In 2019, at the age of seven, Delanie Dennis founded Delanie’s Lemonade Stand in her parents’ restaurant, Cafe Delanie. Inspired by an animal welfare organization commercial that moved her and a book about a girl who ran a lemonade stand to benefit pediatric cancer patients, Delanie made a personal commitment to help animals in her community. Each month, Delanie chooses a new local animal rescue organization to receive 100% of the sales of designated items at the stand and restaurant. In three years, Delanie, now ten, has helped raise and donate more than $43,000 to these rescues. In 2021, Delanie went further by hosting her first adoption fair, which featured 29 local animal rescues and resulted in the adoption of more than 30 animals. She also frequently volunteers at rescue organizations caring for a range of animals, including dogs, cats, horses, and exotic animals. Delanie believes—and proves—that there’s no limit to what a kid can do to support animals in need.
- CAT ADVOCATE OF THE YEAR: F.O.R.W.A.R.D. (Indianapolis, IN)
The Feline and Offenders Rehabilitation with Affection, Reformation, and Dedication (F.O.R.W.A.R.D.) program was established in 2015 by former Pendleton Correctional Facility employee Michelle Rains in coordination with the Animal Protection League (APL) of Indiana. In this innovative program, cats of various ages, colors, and personalities—some with behavioral and medical challenges—travel from the APL to customized living spaces at the Pendleton Correctional Facility, a medium-maximum security prison. There, the cats are cared for by selected incarcerated individuals who provide daily care as well as medical care and companionship to the cats. The caretakers also learn important responsibility and pet care skills. In these cat-caretaker relationships, each gains a new companion to appreciate, assist, learn from, and enjoy. Since the F.O.R.W.A.R.D. program began, approximately 60 cats and kittens have spent time at the facility. Many were later adopted into safe and loving homes, thanks in part to the love and socialization experiences they received at the facility.
- DOG OF THE YEAR: Clementine (Cedar Hill, TX)
Clementine, a three-year-old Catahoula/hound mix dropped off in May 2021 at an animal shelter in southeastern Louisiana, was one of many animals relocated by the ASPCA Animal Relocation team to Texas when Hurricane Ida headed for the Louisianan coast that August. During her time at the Tri-City Animal Shelter in Cedar Hill, Texas, Clementine was adopted twice but returned each time due to her challenges adapting to her adopted families’ lifestyles and other pets.
Around the same time, Captain Robert Moree of the Cedar Hill Fire Department wrote a letter to his Fire Chief proposing they adopt a dog to help the firefighters cope with their stressful jobs. In October, Clementine was adopted by Cedar Hill Fire Department’s Fire Station #212 and formed a strong bond with the station’s five-man crew. Living full-time inside Fire Station #212—which now includes a custom-built outdoor play yard—Clementine serves not only as a beloved pet but also as a valuable source of therapeutic support and comfort for firefighters coping with traumatic calls.
- EQUINE WELFARE AWARD: Detroit Horse Power (Detroit, MI)
Since 2015, Detroit Horse Power—founded by local elementary school teacher and horse enthusiast David Silver—has connected hundreds of Detroit students with horse barns outside the city for free summer camp and after-school experiences. These impactful experiences, including riding and caring for the horses, teach the students valuable lessons about perseverance, empathy, responsible risk-taking, confidence, and self-control that set them up for academic, career, and life success. The organization also hosts a range of community events in Detroit and is advancing toward its 2024 goal of constructing a new urban equestrian center on 14 acres of vacant land inside Detroit that will elevate and improve the accessibility of its programs for young people and help revitalize the surrounding neighborhood.
- PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD: Islip, New York Firefighters (Islip, NY)
On the morning of July 17, 2022, firefighters from Islip Terrace Fire Department, Islip Fire Department, and East Islip Fire Department bravely rescued three trapped dogs (two Siberian Huskies and an Alaskan Malamute) and a 19-year-old woman from a house fire in Long Island. Discovering two of the dogs were unconscious and barely breathing, the firefighters immediately began chest compressions and cooled off the dogs with a fire hose. The dramatic rescue was captured on video, inspiring people nationwide.
The rescued woman and all three dogs survived their ordeal thanks to these heroic firefighters’ skill and quick thinking. The collaborating departments—who serve more than 14,000 residents combined— acted not only on their duty but also on their deep compassion for people and animals in need.
- HENRY BERGH AWARD: Dr. Jon Geller (Fort Collins, CO)
In March 2022, Dr. Jon Geller, an emergency veterinary clinician in Colorado for 20 years, was alarmed by the number of Ukrainians he saw fleeing the country with their pets due to the war with Russia. Inspired to volunteer his skills and resources, Dr. Geller traveled to Romania and spent weeks there setting up and operating a veterinary clinic at the Romanian-Ukraine border that provided veterinary care and pet passport services to the pets of Ukraine refugees. Dr. Geller’s team of volunteer student veterinarians from across Europe also supports local animal welfare organizations operating at or near the border. Dr. Geller’s Ukrainian clinic is an extension of The Street Dog Coalition, an organization he founded in 2015 to provide free veterinary care to pets of people with housing challenges in nearly 50 U.S. cities. Named Veterinarian of the Year by the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association in 2019, Geller says he will immediately return to the war-torn area if he is needed.
For more information on the 2022 Humane Awards Luncheon or to make a donation to the ASPCA, visit www.ASPCA.org/2022HAL. Your support will help the ASPCA continue to provide local and national leadership in three key areas: caring for pet parents and pets, providing positive outcomes for at-risk animals, and serving victims of animal cruelty.