David Patrick Columbia's New York Social Diary

21 Nov 2016

Remarkable recipients

A group of exceptional animals and people – including Sen. Bob Dole; and a dedicated emotional support dog, a loyal cat who saves his owner from deadly seizures, and the first pit bull police dog in the state of New York – were honored last Thursday at the 2016 ASPCA (American Society for prevention of Curelty to Animals) Humane Awards Luncheon at Cipriani 42nd Street.

The celebration, led by Chuck Scarborough, recognized extraordinary animals as well as individuals who have shown great dedication to animal welfare in 2016, which is also the 150th anniversary year of the ASPCA.

“In addition to recognizing the heroism and sacrifice of these eight remarkable recipients, the ASPCA Humane Awards bring important attention to the ever-growing commitment to animal welfare from individuals, communities, and businesses across the country,” said Matt Bershadker, President and CEO of the ASPCA. “That widespread support is critical to ending cruelty and protecting animals in need.”

Senator Dole, accepting his ASPCA Presidential Service Award said:
"I didn't realize when I was elected to Congress in 1961 that you could do things that would make a difference for animals -- these poor defenseless creatures that are being mistreated."

Dole also shared animal-friendly advice for President-Elect Donald Trump: "[Donald] Trump doesn't have a dog. And I have come to know the Donald, and my next phone call with him will be that he ought to have a dog in the White House."

Rob Rosa, who received the ASPCA Henry Bergh Award remarked:
"Too often, society turns its back on individuals and animals who seem impossible to change and are viewed as 'not my problem.' No one — human or canine — deserves to be forever judged by their worst day. New Leash on Life USA and the ASPCA see the potential in all people and animals, and treat each with respect and humanity."

Tim Hetzner, President of Lutheran Church Charities accepted on behalf of Ruthie, ASPCA Dog of the Year Award recipient. He told the luncheon guests:
"There is something about a dog, a sixth sense. How many friends do you know who show unconditional love, are confidential, don't take notes, and wag their tails at you? That's what dogs do. They have a lot to teach us. And I thank the ASPCA for championing animals."

Mr. Hetzner’s remark made me laugh as I was immediately reminded of my three housemates, who are lying on a pad underneath my desk as I write. Except for Rosemary who is scratching the side of my chair to get me to pick her up on my lap or give her a treat.  I pretend I’m not noticing her since if I took her on my lap she’d look all over my desk for something she could chew (or eat), and she just had a treat. Rosemary has boundless energy and is very aggressive as well. In the first few months of our co-residency, she could really annoy me (I’m laughing again because she still has the power although it now makes me laugh.) What all three of my energetic pups do for me is give me the opportunity to love unconditionally. I know they “love” me, or are at least attached to me. But it’s my feelings about them that give me strength.

There are lots of dogs and cats that need homes. If you can take the ten minutes, twice a day to feed them, and walk them however briefly (keep the cats inside please) you will discover the beauty of unconditional loving. It’s your heart, your center; and everyone’s pleasure.

Following a nationwide public call for nominations, an ASPCA-appointed committee reviewed hundreds of entries and selected winners in eight categories.

Alison Minton and Kathleen Giordano