Media Release: Four-legged Heroes Honoured for Life Saving Acts

Mariel Anderson and Peeka, inductee of the 2008 Purina Animal Hall of Fame. Also recognized for their life-saving efforts during today's ceremony were Corey from North York, ON, Freddie from Coldwater, ON, Maggie-May from Winnipeg, MB, and Missy from Hamilton, ON. (CNW Group/Purina Animal Hall of Fame)

Family Hero - Maggie May, an eight-month-old Wheaton Terrier from Winnipeg, was inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame today for waking her owner Suann DeCourcey, alerting her to dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide in her home. Suann, who is deaf in one ear, could not hear the carbon monoxide detector going off while she was asleep. (CNW Group/Purina Animal Hall of Fame)

Remarkable Service Dog - Missy, a 14-year-old terrier mix, trained to detect owner Stephanie Blanchard's seizures, was inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame today for going above and beyond the call of duty. Missy came to the aid of a family friend in Terrace Bay, Ontario suffering from a stroke. Missy refused to leave her side, and barked frantically until someone came to investigate and rushed the woman to hospital. (CNW Group/Purina Animal Hall of Fame)

Canine Intuition - Freddie, a three-year-old German Shepherd from St. Catharines, Ontario was inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame today for pulling his owner Mike Hambling safely to shore after he fell through the ice into the frigid waters outside the family cottage in Coldwater, Ontario. (CNW Group/Purina Animal Hall of Fame)

Persistent Poodle - Peeka, a Lhasa Apso Poodle from Saskatoon, was inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame today for saving the life of a newborn baby girl. Peeka whined, barked and scratched incessantly at the backdoor of the Anderson family home to draw attention to an abandoned baby wrapped in a blanket on the outside porch in -29º C temperatures. (CNW Group/Purina Animal Hall of Fame)

Corey, a 14-year-old Miniature Schnauzer from North York, Ontario was inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame today for his keen sense of hearing that saved the life of 80-year-old Jack Turner. Corey led his owner Jay Sobel 200 metres, tracking the faint distress calls of Jack who fell into the freezing water of his swimming pool, before it was open for the summer season. (CNW Group/Purina Animal Hall of Fame)


    - Five Courageous Canines Inducted into Purina Animal Hall of Fame(TM) -

    TORONTO, May 5 /CNW/ - Acute hearing, fierce loyalty and a keen sense of
smell are just a few of the characteristics of the five brave animals -
Freddie, Peeka, Corey, Maggie May and Missy - that are this year's inductees
into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame. Honoured at the 40th anniversary ceremony
this morning in Toronto, Ontario, each one of these spirited animals exemplify
the ultimate in bravery, loyalty and unbelievable courage in saving the life
of a human being.
    "The Purina Animal Hall of Fame is an incredible opportunity to pay
tribute to the pets and service animals that are a part of our everyday world
- and specifically honour heroes that have gone beyond the call of duty to
help save lives," said Mary Siemiesz, Director of Consumer Communication,
Nestlé Purina PetCare.
    For the past four decades Purina has recognized the heroic acts of our
beloved pets and stoic service animals. As one of the longest running pet
recognition programs in Canada, the Purina Animal Hall of Fame has inducted
138 animals - 114 dogs, 23 cats and one horse. The Purina Animal Hall of Fame
will soon have a permanent home, to be unveiled later this summer, where pet
lovers can experience the incredible live-saving stories for themselves.
Canadians from coast-to-coast can also visit www.purina.ca/about/halloffame to
relive the past 40 years of pet heroes or submit their own pet hero story for
the 2009 Purina Animal Hall of Fame.
    This year's four pets and one service animal all demonstrated true
loyalty, courage and bravery in saving the life of their owners, and even
complete strangers. What some of this year's inductees lack in stature and
size, they make up for in valour and fearlessness. All of their stories
further remind us of the extraordinary bond that exists between humans and
animals, and how often these animals reward their owners with their loyalty
and courage.
    "Freddie is most definitely our hero for the part he played in saving my
husband's life," said Debbie Hambling, owner of 2008 inductee Freddie. "I
thank him each and every day, and it is wonderful that he is being recognized
by the Purina Animal Hall of Fame for his brave deed."

    The 2008 Purina Animal Hall of Fame Inductees:

    Corey (North York, ON)

    Out on their daily walk in early May 2007, 14-year-old Miniature
Schnauzer Corey dragged his owner Jay Sobel approximately 200 yards down the
street, tracking a very faint voice in distress. They located 80-year-old Jack
Turner, who had fallen into the freezing cold water while out inspecting his
pool, before opening it for the summer season,. His chronic emphysema and
heavy, wet clothing made it impossible to pull himself out. Thanks to Corey,
Jay was able get to Mr. Turner in time to lift him from the pool, warm him up
and call an ambulance. At the hospital, Jack was treated for a mild heart
attack, hypothermia and badly scraped hands from his desperate attempts to
crawl out of the pool.
    Since the accident, Corey now automatically heads for the Turner house on
his walks to check in on Jack. If Jack is sitting on the front step, Corey, a
senior dog, will struggle up the steps just to check in on him and enjoy a
friendly pat on the head. Corey is truly Jack's hero.

    Peeka (Saskatoon, SK)

    Peeka's persistence saved the life of a newborn baby girl last February.
Temperatures hovered around -29: C when five-year-old Peeka, a Lhasa Apso
Poodle, began to whine and bark incessantly at the back door, scratching and
frantically trying to grab the attention of her owners Ed and Lee Anderson.
When she finally convinced Ed to come to the door, he looked out and saw a
baby wrapped in a sleeping blanket on the porch. He quickly brought the
newborn girl inside and his wife, a nurse, checked her over while Ed called
the police. Thanks to Peeka's perseverance, the baby girl survived this
heartbreaking situation and made a full recovery.

    Freddie (St. Catharines, ON)

    Out on a walk near their cottage in Coldwater, Ontario with owner Mike
Hambling, three-year-old German Shepherd Freddie's instincts were razor sharp
when the ice suddenly gave way under Mike and he plunged into the frigid
water. He tried several times in vain to pull himself out as his wife watched
helplessly from across the channel. Mike was starting to black out when he
felt a strong tug at his wrist. Amazingly, Freddie's leash was still wrapped
around his wrist. Freddie's years of tug-of-war play helped him to free Mike
from the hole in the ice and pull him to safety.

    Maggie May (Winnipeg, MB)

    Eight-month-old Wheaton Terrier Maggie May alerted her owner Suann
DeCourcey to dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide in their home last
November. Suann, strangely not feeling well, decided to lie down for a nap in
the afternoon. Shortly thereafter, she awoke to Maggie May sitting right on
her chest, licking her face and whining loudly. When Suann, who is deaf in one
ear, sat up, she heard the carbon monoxide detector going off. Both Suann and
Maggie May made it out of the house safely, and the fire department and gas
company were called to deal with the toxic levels of gas in the house.

    Service Animal of the Year: Missy (Hamilton, ON)

    Originally adopted from a shelter and taken home as a family pet, Missy
demonstrated very early that she was capable of much more. She was trained to
detect owner Stephanie's panic attacks and later epileptic seizures. Missy
went above and beyond even that call of duty one night in Terrace Bay, Ontario
when her keen senses convinced her to stay with family friend Barb Langley,
even at the risk of not being by Stephanie's side. Later that night Barb
called a friend and sounded like she was talking in her sleep. About to hang
up, the friend heard Missy barking furiously in the background and as a result
decided to check in on Barb. When he arrived he found Barb had had a stroke,
and he rushed her to hospital. She made a full recovery, thanks to the sixth
sense and determination of Missy.

    At Nestlé Purina PetCare, commitment to pets and their owners is
reflected in their promise, "Your Pet, Our Passion(R)". In addition to the
Purina Animal Hall of Fame, Purina sponsors regional and national breeder
shows. The company also works with and supports various animal associations,
such as National Service Dogs, Dog Guides Canada and Pacific Assistance Dog
Society. For more information about the Purina Animal Hall of Fame please
visit www.purina.ca/about/halloffame.

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/









For further information: To request an interview, learn more about these
inductees or obtain photography please contact: Julienne Spence or Nicole
Paara, Environics Communications, (416) 969-2765, (416) 522-1677,
jspence@environicspr.com, npaara@environicspr.com