Lucy, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, has been named Rescue Animal of the Year at the Animal Hero Awards 2016.
Lucy was nominated for her work raising awareness of the underground puppy trade in England and Wales. In March 2013, she was rescued, aged eight, by Lisa Garner through Many Tears from a puppy farm in Wales. She’d been treated as a breeding machine and had never been out of her cramped cage.
Speaking at Grosvenor House, Park Lane, last night, Lisa said: “I am so shocked to have won, there were some fantastic nominees tonight and I’ve had some overwhelming stories.
“I think people really engage with Lucy particularly through social media, they think of her as their own dog.
“Lucy knows she has a purpose in life, she is so well behaved and calm when I take her out to meet people.
“Our message is to encourage people to do their research before getting a dog. Don’t just look online – and don’t underestimate the level of deceit from puppy breeders.”
Lucy was seriously underweight when she was rescued. She was missing chunks of fur and her back feet touched her front feet from being hunched over in a tiny space. Lucy still suffers from health problems such as epilepsy and is blind in one eye. She has fronted a national campaign against puppy farming.
“I think people have fallen in love with her cheeky character and zest for life which she has, even after all she has endured,” Lisa added.
Many of the winners at the Animal Hero Awards had stories to share. TV star Paul O’Grady was proud to receive this year’s Outstanding Contribution Award, presented to him by RSPCA vice president Dr Brian May.
He said: “It is very, very, special. You don’t do the work for awards, you do it to make things better.
“It is funny how much your career moves on and the things you end up doing, but it is just about the changes you make and the risks you take.”
But he hoped the awards would go on to inspire a next generation to bring an end to animal cruelty in Britain and abroad. “You only have to look at things like puppy farms and dog fighting…the things they do to those poor animals.
“But youngsters are the generation that can repair the damage.”
The RSPCA launched its Scrap the Puppy Trade in October last year, calling on the Government to introduce legislation to tackle the trade and encouraging the public to source and buy puppies responsibly.
The fourth annual Animal Hero Awards aimed to pay tribute to animals and the people involved in their care. Winners included:
- RSPCA Superstar of the Year – Mike Butcher
- Rescue Animal of the Year – Lucy, a King Charles spaniel.
- Outstanding Business Award – Barratt Homes
- Young Animal Enthusiast of the Year – (joint winners) Lucy Gavaghan and Liam Landymore
- Hero Animal of the Year – Baxter
- Vet of the Year – Janey Lowes
- Caring Animal of the Year – Haatchi
- Special Recognition – Sue Dicks and PC Lee Webb
- Public Service Animal of the Year – (joint winners) Diesel and Rex
- Animal Enthusiast of the Year – Martin Hemmington