The Petco Foundation and Victoria Stilwell are honoring five Unsung Heroes across the country for their extraordinary, lifesaving efforts on behalf of animals with a $10,000 grant award for their animal welfare organization. Of the five honorees, one will be awarded the national Unsung Hero award and earn an additional $50,000 from the Petco Foundation to support their lifesaving work. From now through May 15, animal lovers across the nation can watch all Unsung Hero stories and select the national awardee through popular vote at petcofoundation.org/unsunghero.
"There are heroes in every community who dedicate their lives to helping animals and are true lifesaving champions," said Susanne Kogut, president of the Petco Foundation. "Honoring these extraordinary people and telling their stories is our way of saying, 'thank you.' And perhaps these stories will inspire others to be heroes too."
This year's Unsung Heroes include:
- Cindy Keown, S.O.A.R. Initiative (Indianapolis, Ind.) – Keown, a compassionate woman who once faced financial hardships herself, now serves others experiencing homelessness and crisis to help them keep their pets and engage available human health services
- Gloria Marti, Save A Sato (San Juan, Puerto Rico) – Marti and her team at Save A Sato, have served the community for over 25 years. But after recent hurricanes and earthquakes devastated Puerto Rico, Gloria's unparalleled commitment to save pets left behind means she is often working non-stop with limited resources to care for the many pets in need.
- Darrell McCurtain, Nuzzles & Co. (Park City, Utah) – McCurtain, a Navajo tribe member himself, works to improve the conditions for pets on the reservations by working with the Navajo Nation, Ute Ouray Nation, Ute Mountain Nation and the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute.
- Jim Phieffer, Gigi's (Columbus, Ohio) – Phieffer applies his action-oriented approach in his construction business to improve the lives of shelter dogs, renovating under-resourced shelters throughout the state with a goal of creating more efficient shelters to reduce the average length of stay for shelter dogs.
- Ken Stein, Feline Canine Friends (Westfield, Wis.) – After making a commitment to his dying friend, Stein, a retired contractor, became a one-man show dedicating his building skills to transform a lifesaving shelter for Feline Canine Friends.
The Unsung Hero honorees go above and beyond saving animals. They are local heroes who share the Petco Foundation's goal to create a lifesaving nation and their inspiring stories prove the difference that one person can make towards creating a better world for pets. Victoria Stilwell traveled across the country documenting the incredible work of these heroes in a series of videos that can be viewed at petcofoundation.org/unsunghero.
"Seeing firsthand the incredible work being done by these incredible, yet humble, people in their communities was truly inspiring," said Victoria Stilwell. "It was a tremendous honor capturing on tape the spirit and passion of what they do every day, and I'm very excited for a wider audience to witness their amazing work via the Unsung Heroes video series."
The Petco Foundation is seeking the help of animal lovers across the nation to help select the awardee through popular vote. The heartwarming stories are available to view at petcofoundation.org/unsunghero. Voting will close on May 15, 2020.
About the Petco Foundation
At the Petco Foundation, we believe that every animal deserves to live its best life. Since 1999, we've invested more than $260 million in lifesaving animal welfare work to make that happen. With our more than 4,000 animal welfare partners, we inspire and empower communities to make a difference by investing in adoption and medical care programs, spay and neuter services, pet cancer research, service and therapy animals, and numerous other lifesaving initiatives. Through our Think Adoption First program, we partner with Petco stores and animal welfare organizations across the country to increase pet adoptions. So far, we've helped more than 6.5 million pets find their new loving families, and we're just getting started. Visit petcofoundation.org to learn more about how you can get involved.
About Victoria Stilwell
Victoria Stilwell is a world-renowned dog trainer best known as the star of the international hit TV series It's Me or the Dog. Having filmed over 110 episodes since 2005, Stilwell reaches audiences in over 100 countries with her philosophy of positive training methods. Stilwell is a best-selling author who appears frequently in the media and is widely recognized as a leader in the field of animal behavior. A passionate advocate for positive dog training methods, Stilwell is the Editor-in-Chief of Positively.com and Positively TV, the founder of the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training & Behavior, and the CEO of Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training – the world's premier global network of positive reinforcement dog trainers. The recipient of multiple awards, Stilwell is committed to helping the cause of animal rescue and rehabilitation and is heavily involved with organizations around the world to increase awareness of puppy mills, dogfighting, animal abuse, pet overpopulation, dog bite prevention and other animal-related causes, but she is best known as a champion for force-free positive reinforcement dog training methods. She is a National Ambassador for the RSPCA and the Soidog Foundation and serves on the Advisory Boards of RedRover, DogTV, Dognition, W-Underdogs and Canine Assistants.