Vote for HomeAgain Pet Hero of the Year


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HomeAgain judges took your nominations for most impressive heroes for pets. I was among the judges (who included the co-founder of petfinder.com and Sully Sullenberger) who narrowed the list. Now it’s up to you. On Steve Dale’s Pet World, I speak with Karen Kainer Consumer Marketing Manager of Merk Animal Health and HomeAgain who rattles off the amazing achievements of what some of these heroes have done. You can listen HERE.

HomeAgain Heroes Charitable Partners

Vote for your favorite HomeAgain Hero (nominess listed below), HERE.   

Jeff Bennett 

Many times rescue groups will pull pets from kill shelters in an effort to provide them with the opportunity to find a forever home. But what happens when theses dogs and cats are hundreds of miles away from the shelters that are trying to save them? That’s when Jeff Bennett steps in!

Jeff Bennett is a volunteer pilot with Pilots N Paws. He has dedicated his time, resources and plane to transporting close to 2,000 animals from kill shelters to rescue groups in other areas. Jeff has made a significant difference in the lives of pets. He’s given them the chance to attain needed medical care, find a forever home, or even become service animals.

Jeff is also the Florida Coordinator for Pilots N Paws and works with shelters and pilots to facilitate transports. Numerous pets have a better life because of Jeff Bennett’s efforts and his love of animals, including his own four rescue dogs.

Dr. Joyce Gerardi

Joyce Gerardi DVM recently started a non-profit organization call Kindred-Canines in Motion, also known as KIM. She named the non-profit after her niece, Kim, who fell off a horse and is a quadriplegic. Kim has a doggy that, despite suffering from arthritis, is her constant companion.

Kindred-Canines in Motion aims to offer Adipose Regenerative Stem Cell Therapy, the latest canine arthritis treatment, to such companion and service dogs. Dr. Joyce wants to help dogs stay in motion and keep working with people with disabilities as long as possible.

What does the future hold for Kindred-Canines in Motion? Dr. Joyce is raising funds for a specialty mobile veterinary clinic to bring Adipose Regenerative Stem Cell Therapy to service/assistance dogs in order to keep them working as long as possible!

Jennifer Leary 

Jennifer Leary, a Philadelphia Fire Fighter and Red Cross Emergency Responder, experienced two incidents that changed her life forever.

A few years ago when Jennifer responded to a two-alarm fire with the Red Cross, she saw the home owners carrying their dogs in their arms screaming for help, but no one was there to help them. Jennifer used her own vehicle to rush the devastated family to Penn Veterinary Hospital, where their beloved pets later died.

The second incident occurred in January, 2011 at a three-alarm fire in a West Philly apartment complex. She observed that cats were being taken out of the building in laundry baskets and rushed to the shelter without crates or emergency vet care. Even weeks after the fire, dozens of cats were trapped in the building.

This was the last straw for Jennifer Leary. She brought her idea for Red Paw to the American Red Cross. She proposed that Red Paw would work in conjunction with Red Cross responders if there were pets on scene.

Eight months later, Red Paw was born with the goal of providing emergency transport, shelter, long-term fostering, emergency vet care, on-going medical care and free food delivery to the fosters. Since its start, Red Paw has responded close to 200 times and has aided over 350 pets. People have the fire department and the Red Cross to provide emergency assistance, and their pets have Red Paw!

Vicki Phillips

Animal-welfare volunteer Vicki Phillips has been tirelessly tending to dogs in need since 2002, when she signed on with the Mid-Atlantic English Springer Spaniel Rescue, or MAESSR, as a transporter. Vicki has shuttled, fed, watered, groomed, walked, fostered, taught, learned from, traveled on behalf of, and helped find forever homes for countless dogs imperiled by human mistreatment and natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.

Within a week of Sandy, she was working closely with the Kibble Cupboard of South Jersey, transporting dogs throughout the region and delivering food to whatever county needed help. Vicki helped them deliver more than 1,000 pounds of pet food along the New Jersey coast. She also used her network to help find foster homes for five dogs while their pet parents got back on their feet. As the owner of Animal House Grooming & Pet Supplies of Absecon, Vicki also made sure her customers were taken care of. She and her staff extended themselves to find the right local resources for people and their beloved companions.

Trained by FEMA and the American Red Cross in disaster mental health, Vicki spent three weeks in St. Croix assisting after Hurricane Marilyn in 1995. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Vicki joined other MAESSR volunteers in New Orleans to work on animal search-and-rescue teams. She spent a week riding through flood-ravaged neighborhoods, rescuing lost and abandoned animals she could reach, and setting out food for those she couldn’t.

In addition to volunteering with MAESSR, she also provides free grooming services to past and present MAESSR pups. The definition of compassion, dedication, and loving concern, Vicki has adopted five rescues of her own and fostered 70 other dogs awaiting adoption by loving families. She lives, breathes, works, and donates for pets in need.

Theresa Strader

n February 2007, Theresa Strader, a pediatric oncology nurse, wife, mother and foster mom, received an email with the subject line, “50 Dogs in Need.” A puppy mill was going out of business and the dogs were going to be auctioned off.

Wanting to help, Theresa and her teenage daughter traveled from Colorado to the Missouri dog auction where they learned about the cruel realities of the puppy mill industry. They saw a female Italian Greyhound sitting up in the back of a cage in a dark barn. The dog looked Theresa square in the eyes and asked her for help. Theresa knew that she couldn’t leave the auction without #251, or Lily, as Theresa named her. Lilly was worn out, with a rotted jaw and mammary tumors along her entire left side. Lily had been used her whole life as a breeding dog in a puppy mill. She was born, raised, and had 13 litters of puppies before being sold to Theresa for $40.

On that day, Theresa single-handedly started National Mill Dog Rescue, a non-profit organization. Their mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home discarded commercial breeding dogs and to educate the general public about the the commercial dog breeding industry.

In just six years, National Mill Dog Rescue has rescued almost 8,000 dogs from puppy mills throughout the country. On average, NMDR rescues, rehabilitates, and re-homes over 60 dogs each month. The organization is funded almost entirely by donations and is mostly staffed by over 800 passionate volunteers.

Theresa personally travels with the rescue team each month throughout the country, rescuing discarded commercial breeding dogs. The documentary, “I Breathe” was based on the story of NMDR. It’s truly Theresa’s passion that inspires everyone involved with National Mill Dog Rescue.

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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