ASPCA announces recipients of the 2017 Humane Awards


Honorees include a service dog lending support to Boston Marathon bombing survivors; a brave fifth grader standing up for animals; and a nonprofit rescue group working to assist working military and police K9s.

NEW YORK (October 19th, 2017) – The ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today announced the 2017 Humane Awards recipients. They will be honored at the upcoming Humane Awards Luncheon on Thursday, November 16 in New York City. The awards will honor inspirational animals and people who are doing exceptional work in supporting the ASPCA’s mission of providing effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. The event will also recognize animal heroes who, over the past year, have demonstrated extraordinary efforts and a commitment to animal welfare. Following a nationwide public call for nominations, an ASPCA-appointed committee reviewed hundreds of entries and selected winners in six categories, including the brand new ASPCA Citizen Hero Award.

“The ASPCA Humane Awards demonstrate the life-saving impact both heroes for animals and animal heroes have on their communities and on society,” said ASPCA president and CEO Matt Bershadker. “They also prove that anyone can make a difference in the welfare of animals, including a South Carolina firehouse, a Connecticut fifth grader, and a dedicated Texas resident. We’re honored to spotlight and support their outstanding efforts.”

The ASPCA’s annual Humane Awards Luncheon is sponsored by Crum & Forster Pet Insurance Group. Accommodations for honorees were generously provided by the Plaza Hotel, a Fairmont property. Additional support was provided by West Elm and Studio Fun International. This special event, hosted by NBC anchor Chuck Scarborough, will be held on Thursday, Nov. 16, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City.

This year’s honorees include:

  • ASPCA® Dog of the Year: “Rescue,” Cambridge, MA

Rescue, a service dog trained by NEADS, provides essential support to Jessica Kensky, who became a double amputee as a result of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Rescue’s assistance for Jessica includes opening doors, fetching objects, calling for emergency help, and many other tasks. At the same time, Rescue also provides Jessica and her husband Patrick Downes with invaluable emotional support and comfort that has helped transform their lives after tragedy.

  • ASPCA® Cat of the Year: “Flame,” Greenville, SC

Flame was a malnourished orange and white kitten when he strayed into the Belmont Fire Department in South Carolina in 2015. He attached himself immediately to the firefighters, who returned the affection, opening their home and hearts for him. Flame brings them companionship and comfort, even during the most stressful and tragic moments, and also participates in educational events with local children.

  • ASPCA® Citizen Hero Award: Judy Obregon, Fort Worth, TX

When Judy Obregon discovered that an area near Fort Worth, Texas had become a dumping ground for abandoned, injured, and deceased animals, she vowed to help them. Since 2010, Judy has visited this financially challenged, high-crime area to rescue animals, arrange veterinary care, and assist with their adoption. With help from a network of local volunteers she formed, Judy has rescued more than 300 dogs to date, inspiring admirers across the country.

  • ASPCA® Henry Bergh Award: Mission K9 Rescue, Houston, TX

Mission K9 Rescue assists American retired military and working dogs who risk their lives in heroic service at home and abroad. While these animals are cared for during their tours of duty, some end up homeless, injured, and very vulnerable afterward. Mission K9 Rescue provides necessary care and rehabilitation, and facilitates reunion and adoption opportunities. Since its founding, Mission K9 Rescue has reunited more than 70 canine handler teams and rescued more than 100 dogs in need.

  • ASPCA® Equine Welfare Award: Fleet of Angels, Evans, CO

When lifelong horse-lover Elaine Nash saw how commercial transportation costs and a lack of access to horse trailers hindered the rescue and adoption of at-risk horses, she launched Fleet of Angels to help. Fleet of Angels is a network of thousands of trailer owners dedicated to helping equines relocate from dangerous environments to areas of safety – sometimes as far away as Alaska. Each year, thousands of horses are assisted by their life-saving work, including horses recently displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

  • ASPCA® Tommy P. Monahan Kid of the Year Award: Jessica Brocksom, Milford, CT

Eleven-year-old animal lover Jessica Brocksom won the job of 2017 Connecticut Kid Governor℠ on the strength of her inspiring animal welfare platform. Elected by fifth graders from across the state, Jessica works actively to help animals and owners in need, including advocating for legislation to allow children to have therapy animals with them while testifying in court, and helping increase awareness of the dangers of leaving dogs and other animals in cars during hot weather.


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Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first animal welfare organization in North America and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animals. More than two 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. For more information, please visit, and be sure to follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Click to see author's profile.

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