Tonight's the night! Animal Planet plans to announce the winner of the 2008 Animal Heroes award. Worthy nominees have been voted for by the network's viewers through a lengthy web site poll and should be announced at 10 p.m. tonight, December 11th.
Among the many deserving nominees are some faces and organizations that may be familiar to you. If not, you will surely be hearing more about them because of the honor of even making the final list of nominees.
Among the ten is Chris Dodge of the H.O.R.S.E. Sanctuary, a horse-aided therapy group in western New York that aims to help both horses and humans get a second chance for a better life. Chris is a volunteer's volunteer and nothing ever seems to come easily for H.O.R.S.E., although they have an unusual knack for turning their needs and hard work into great stories. One of my favorites is how two local members of a Girl Scout troop volunteered to help at the farm and ended up spearheading a massive effort to install year-round running water to the vast network of paddocks at the rescue site.
Jill's bio, as provided by Animal Planet, doesn't include one of her finest moments as an animaltarian. I had the privilege of getting to know Jill over the past few years when I found out that she stepped up as a somewhat anonymous donor back in the post-Katrina days, when so many animals needed help. Jill, along with the Humane Society of the United States, paid Louisiana State University's vet school hospital to perform the lifesaving amputation surgery on the now-famous therapy pony (then an abandoned hurricane victim), "Molly the Pony", who has hobbled forward into a new life as a symbol of hope for so many handicapped children, and the subject of a best-selling children's book now in its third printing in eight months. I first met Molly while writing about her for EQUUS magazine.
Chris and Jill were up against animal heroes from all walks of life and representing all species (even bats!). I am sure that all the nominees were deserving, but it was wonderful to see two familiar names on the list.
I hope you will join me and watch Animal Planet tonight, at 10 p.m. EST, to find out who won!