Every year, the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) chooses one dog, one cat, and one child that exemplify the beautiful bond between people and animals. The public nominated hundreds of entries and the ASPCA announced the winners on November 7. The winners’ stories are sure to tug at the heart strings of any animal lover.
Kid of the Year: Catherine V. Hubbard
At just six-years-old, Catherine Hubbard (pictured) had an innate ability to connect with animals. She deemed herself head of “Catherine’s Animal Shelter” and even made her own business cards. Sadly, Catherine was among the children who lost their lives during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012. Catherine’s parents, Matthew and Jenny Hubbard, honored Catherine’s dream by establishing the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation and asking for donations to the Animal Center in Newtown. The center is hoping to build the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary in her honor.
Cat of the Year: Koshka
Staff Sgt. Jesse Knott was stationed in southern Afghanistan when a suicide bombing killed two of his good friends. Koshka was a stray cat that befriended Knott and stayed loyally by his side through this dark time. When Knott’s tour of duty in Afghanistan came to an end, he did everything he could to bring his feline companion home with him. Thanks to a brave interpreter who helped transport Koshka to Kabul and an expensive plane ticket purchased by Knott’s parents, Koshka is living a peaceful life with Knott at their home in Oregon.
Dog of the Year: Xena
In 2012, an abandoned and severely malnourished pit bull puppy was rescued by a Georgia animal control officer. A member of Friends of Dekalb Animals (FODA) took the puppy home knowing that her prognosis for survival was bleak. Amazingly, Xena, recovered and was eventually adopted by the Hickey family. The family’s eight-year-old son, Jonny, is autistic and before Xena came along, preferred solitary activities and rarely communicated with others. Once Xena came into the Hickey home, Jonny’s playfulness and communication skills blossomed. Today, Jonny and Xena use their story to promote both animal welfare and autism awareness.