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Tag: honor

Susie named 2014′s “American Hero Dog”

susie

Susie, the abused North Carolina dog who inspired a law, a movie, and a nonprofit organization, has been named the American Humane Association’s 2014 American Hero Dog.

Susie, found with burns over most of her body in 2009, received a standing ovation at the AHA‘s black-tie awards gala Saturday night in Beverly Hills, where she was one of eight finalists competing for the prize.

“I’m just blown away,” Donna Lawrence told TODAY.com after learning her dog had won. “There were so many amazing dogs with great stories. When they called Susie, I just wanted to cry.”

In 2009, Susie was found with severe second and third-degree burns over most of her body in Greenfield Park in south Greensboro. Her ears were burned off and she had a broken jaw and teeth. She was taken to the Guilford County Animal Shelter and eventually nursed back to health.

She was adopted by Donna and Roy Lawrence — just 10 months after Donna was attacked while trying to help a neglected pit bull that had spent much of its life tied to a tree in her neighbor’s yard in High Point, North Carolina.

When the man who was convicted of setting Susie on fire was sentenced to probation, outraged dog lovers launched a campaign for tougher penalties for animal cruelty and abuse.

“Susie’s Law,” which made animal cruelty a felony in North Carolina, went into effect in 2010, signed by then-governor Bev Perdue.

Donna Lawrence went on to establish Susie’s Hope, a nonprofit organization that fosters awareness of animal abuse. In 2013, the story was made into a movie, also called “Susie’s Hope.”

Susie is now a certified therapy dog and visits schools, hospitals and churches to bring messages of kindness, respect and responsibility to children and adults.

Other finalists in the Hero Dog Awards, included:

Bretagne, one of the last known surviving search dogs who worked at Ground Zero in New York after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks

Kai, an arson dog who has worked more than 200 fire investigations in San Antonio

JJ, a little dog with a powerful nose that can detect when his human, ther  a girl named KK Krawczyk, is about to have a life-threatening reaction due to a rare illness

Kota, a law-enforcement K9 who sustained multiple fractures while responding to a burglary in progress but who kept trying to help his police officer partner apprehend a suspect

Xena the Warrior Puppy, a dog rescued from extreme abuse who went on to help a little boy with autism in profound ways

Chaney, a military dog who served multiple tours sniffing out explosives in Iraq and Afghanistan

Xxon, a guide dog who helped an Air Force sergeant continue to serve active duty and regain independence after being blinded by explosives in Afghanistan.

The Hallmark Channel will air the awards show on Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. (Eastern Time).

(Photo: American Humane Association)

A Penny saved is an honor earned

Even more than we love his name …  Americus Rambeau … we love what the Baltimore police officer did on Dec. 29, 2010 — namely, jump into the icy waters of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor to rescue a dog named Penny.

“She was happy to have somebody to hang onto,” he was quoted as saying after saving the dog’s life.

Aren’t we all.

On Jan. 26, at noon, the Baltimore Humane Society (BHS) will honor Rambeau and three other members of the Baltimore Police Department’s Marine Unit for their rescue of Penny, a black lab mix who ran out of her Federal Hill home, across Key Highway and into the harbor.

The ceremony will take place at the shelter building on the grounds of BHS.  The event is open to the public.

Rambeau, along with Sergeant Michael Kain, Officer William Edgar and Officer  John Wagner, arrived by boat to save Penny. She avoided them at first, but once Rambeau was in the water, she allowed him to get close enough to help her.

Once ashore, Penny was treated for “cold-water exposure and hypothermia,” said a spokesman for the BPD Marine Unit.

Penny’s owner, Rachel Naumann, was at work when her roommate opened the front door to sign for a package and Penny, who’s about a year old, got out and headed straight for the harbor, possibly in pursuit of a seagull.

Rambeau, who has multiple cats, told the Baltimore Sun he didn’t hesitate to jump in the water for Penny. He has done the same thing for other dogs, cats, deer and, in 1998, a 79-year-old man.

Naumann picked Penny up from the shelter the next morning, happily paying a $95 fee to pay to reclaim her pet.

“I’m just happy she’s back,” she said.

(Baltimore Sun photos by Kim Hairston)

“Last Minutes wih Oden”

The short documentary above — and, be warned, it will make you cry — chronicles the last minutes of a dog named Oden.

One of more than 6,500 submissions from thousands of artists and filmmakers, “Last Minutes with Oden” won top honors in a video contest sponsored by Vimeo, the online video sharing website.

The video focuses on Jason Wood and his dog Oden, who got cancer and had a leg amputated last year. But the cancer spread, leading Wood to make the anguishing decision to put down the dog who taught him how to love.

The video by Eliot Rausch documents the last day of Oden’s life. Vimeo’s panel of judges named it the best documentary, and the best video, and Vimeo presented the owners with a grant of $25,000. The awards were presented last month in New York City.

Jeremy Boxer, Co-Director of the Vimeo Festival + Awards called the video “one of those rare, intimate shorts that leads with its heart and soul.”

Bench donated in slain dog walker’s memory

benchFriends, family and fellow dog walkers in Salem, Oregon, raised funds to have a new bench installed at a dog park in memory of Darrel Valentine.

Valentine, 74, who used to walk his dogs, Lady, Velvet and Nicky, in the park every morning, was attacked in another park while walking his dogs, and died in September of last year.

The bench was completed and unveiled Friday at Minto-Brown Island Park’s dog park, according to the Statesman Journal in Oregon. A plaque on the bench reads: “In memory of Darrel Valentine. Beloved dog park friend.”

“He was kind of an icon down here,” dog walker Deede James said. “He was down here about two hours every morning.”

Friends and family raised more than $1,000 for the bench. They gathered for its unveiling Friday afternoon, along with Carole Miller, Valentine’s sister, who brought Valentine’s two labs to the park as well. Two of the dogs, Lady and Velvet now live with her. A third, Nicky, was adopted after his death.

Valentine was walking his dogs early Sept. 12 near Santana Park in southeast Salem when he was attacked. A suspect was riding by on a bike and demanded cash from Valentine, who said he didn’t have any. The man attacked and beat Valentine, who died days later. No arrest has been made in the case.

Valentine, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, devoted most of his time to his dogs after retirement.

“I think it is wonderful that everyone came together to do this,” said Mark Valentine, Darrel’s son. “It’s really nice.”

Vick coming to Baltimore for Block award

News that Michael Vick is expected to attend the 32nd annual Ed Block Courage Awards dinner in Baltimore Tuesday has led to a change in the ceremony’s format and an increase in security.

Vick, who was convicted in 2007 of running a dogfighting ring, is one of 32 winners to be honored with the award, which singles out one member of each NFL team for his courage, sportsmanship and inspiration to his community.

Vick’s unanimous selection by his Philadelphia Eagles teammates triggered angry e-mails to the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation, a petition drive and a planned protest by dog lovers and animal welfare activists at the award’s ceremony, to be held at Martin’s West, 6817 Dogwood Road, from 4 to 10 p.m.

More than 100 people have already signed up to protest at the event — a number that could grow as a result of the news that the quarterback will be attending.

In addition to scrapping the long-standing tradition of having the athletes mingle with fans and sign autographs,  organizers say they are boosting security, according to the Baltimore Sun.

“We’ve put in place enough [guards] to make sure that our players are safe and that everything runs smoothly.”said Ed Block Courage Award Foundation spokesman Paul Mittermeier.

The Block Award is named for a former team trainer of the Baltimore Colts, who worked for years to help abused children.

 Criticism for bestowing the award on Vick has come from groups ranging from animal rights activists to the American Kennel Club. “It is unconscionable that a man who tortured and abused helpless animals be honored by an organization dedicated to ending abuse,” the AKC said.

Vick will be accompanied to the event by Michael Markarian, chief operating officer of the Humane Society of the United States,  a group for which the quarterback has made public appearances in recent months, attempting to steer youth away from dogfighting.

Petition seeks to cancel Vick’s courage award

An online petition drive has been launched, asking the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation to rescind the award that Michael Vick’s Philadelphia Eagles teammates unanimously voted for him to receive.

The petition, being sent to Sam Lamantia, CEO of the foundation, reads:

Recently the Philadelphia Eagles have elected Michael Vick as their recipient for this year’s Courage Award. Given Mr. Vick’s crimes and felony conviction, we do not believe he is worthy of this honor. For several years, in addition to promoting dogfighting, Vick himself tortured, abused, and murdered innocent dogs for his own profit and apparent enjoyment. This is not courage. This is inhumanity, immorality, and sheer brutality and does not warrant giving Vick this or any other reward.

Many of us have protested Vick’s reinstatement to the NFL. There has been strong media and PR influence in trying to diminish his past actions and erase the public’s memory of his sadistic behavior. We encourage you to stand up for the rights of animals everywhere and the memory of the dogs who endured Vick’s cruelty…

The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation, based in Baltimore, is dedicated to promoting awareness and assisting in the prevention of child abuse. Vick’s promotion and financing of dogfighting activities and his conviction in 2007 of felony dogfighting charges run counter to that mission, petition backers say.

PETA, meanwhile, has also come out against Vick receiving the honor — one Vick says he deserves because of what he has “been through.”

“In no way does Michael Vick represent courage and inspiration,” the petition’s organizer said. “Rather, he exemplifies cruelty and inhumanity, and is not deserving of reward or recognition. We the undersigned strongly encourage the Ed Block Foundation to demonstrate the true substance of bravery, morals, and ethics. Deny Michael Vick the honor of the Courage Award.”

Of Newt Gingrich, strip clubs and pit bulls

thelodgeWhat do they have in common? I’ll leave that up to you to decide. But here’s a hilarious story, with a happy ending, that involves all three.

It all began in September when Dallas businesswoman Dawn Rizos learned she was to receive an  “Entrepreneur of the Year” award  from American Solutions for Winning the Future, a conservative group led by Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. House speaker.

Rizos didn’t think it all that odd that the organization would be honoring her business, legally known as DCG, Inc., but doing business as The Lodge, one of the finest strip clubs (I’m told) in all of Dallas.

American Solutions — designed to “rise above traditional gridlocked partisanship to provide real, significant solutions to the most important issues facing our country” — was one of the big pushers of that national tea party, and it serves as the political arm of Gingrich’s empire as author, pundit and consultant .

The fax from American Solutions explained that Rizos was being honored as “Entrepreneur of the Year” for her “success in building [her] business and recognition of the risks you take to create jobs and stimulate the economy.”

But apparently American Solutions didn’t know that Rizos’ DCG was stimulating more than the economy; it had sent the fax to the wrong DCG. (In point of fact, The Lodge does stimulate the economy, as well,  with 150 employees, and contracts with an additional 570 dancers or entertainers, one of whom they award with a college scholarship annually.)

Winning the award from the conservative think (but don’t double check) tank, came with a $5,000 fee, payable to American Solutions (a mailed check, since Newt doesn’t wear a garter belt), and for that Rizos would have had the chance to “dine privately with Newt,” and have his ear on ways to “turn this country around.”

Rizos paid, and she booked an airline reservation as well.

Then the conservative group learned they had honored the way wrong company, stripped The Lodge of the award, and promised to pay Rizos back the fee and what she had paid for the airline ticket.

Now, the owner of the topless club has decided to pass that refunded money on to Animal Guardians of America’s sanctuary for rescued dogs in Celina, about 35 miles north of Dallas. It will be to use to build a shelter for pit bulls and named in honor of the former House speaker, the Associated Press reported. 

“Newt’s Nook — A Home for Pit Bulls” is now under construction.

Rizos says she’ll invite Gingrich to the formal dedication in early November.