Canadian Animal Heroes Honoured for Life-Saving Deeds



    Three dogs and one cat inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame(TM)

    TORONTO, May 4 /CNW/ - Fiercely determined, courageous and tenacious.
These are a few of the characteristics describing the four amazing animals -
Nemo, Ace, Sophie and Jarod - inducted into the 41st annual Purina Animal Hall
of Fame this morning in Toronto. Honoured in a formal ceremony at PawsWay Pet
Discovery Centre, the permanent home of the Purina Animal Hall of Fame, each
of these animal heroes demonstrate how the unique bond between animals and
people can ultimately save a human life.
    "We look forward to the Purina Animal Hall of Fame every year because
it's a wonderful opportunity to honour family pets and service animals that
take care of us every day, and pay tribute to their extraordinary life-saving
acts," said Mary Siemiesz, Executive Director of the Purina PetCare Legacy.
"We're especially excited now that the Purina Animal Hall of Fame has a
permanent, year-round home at PawsWay, where animal lovers can be inspired by
these extraordinary animals and learn about their life-saving stories."
    As one of the longest running pet recognition programs in Canada, the
Purina Animal Hall of Fame has honoured the heroic acts of pets and service
animals for over 40 years. Since it's inception in 1968, more than 140 animals
have been inducted - 117 dogs, 24 cats and one horse. Canadians from
coast-to-coast can also visit www.purina.ca/about/halloffame to relive the
past 41 years of pet heroes, and even submit their own pet hero story for
consideration in the 2010 Purina Animal Hall of Fame.
    This year, three pets and one service animal each demonstrated
fearlessness, intelligence and devotion in saving the lives of their owners,
family members, and, in one case, even a complete stranger. "Some of this
year's inductees may be small in stature but they are all big in heart, and
exemplify the extraordinary bond that exists between humans and animals," said
Siemiesz. "They remind us why we adopt, rescue and welcome pets into our
lives, with their unspoken friendship, unconditional adoration and unwavering
loyalty."
    "As difficult as it is to say, I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for
Jarod," said Donna Perreault, owner of 2009 inductee, Jarod. "He saved my life
by bravely fighting off a bear, and protecting me as well as our other dog
Meesha. He is a godsend to us, and I'm so happy that the Purina Animal Hall of
Fame is recognizing his courage."

    The 2009 Purina Animal Hall of Fame Inductees:

    Jarod (Genelle, BC)

    Last fall, Donna Perreault looked out her window to see a black bear
charging her then 12-year old Chow Chow, Meesha. Terrified and full of
adrenaline, Donna ran outside to protect Meesha, not realizing that her other
Chow Chow, Jarod, had instinctively followed her out the door. Within seconds,
the bear turned on Donna. Jarod, now 8-years old, immediately jumped between
them, boldly attacking the bear, and then acted as a decoy by bravely running
behind the garage. The bear took the bait and followed Jarod giving Donna and
Meesha time to safely return inside the house. Jarod ran around the
Perreault's property just long enough to lose the bear and ultimately save his
family. This is a true rescue story in every way. Donna had rescued Jarod from
a shelter when he was 6-years old and he has shown his gratitude by rescuing
her and Meesha in return.

    Nemo (Toronto, ON)

    At twenty-one pounds - or nine-and-a-half kilograms - Nemo, a black and
white domestic shorthair cat may seem an unlikely hero but for Angela and
Peter Papadimitriou he is a lifesaver. Early one morning in September, Nemo
hopped up on Angela and Peter's bed demanding attention - loudly meowing,
nudging and even swatting Angela. Not the typical cuddling behaviour of this
very affectionate cat, Angela rolled over to ask her husband about Nemo's odd
behaviour. What she discovered was that Peter wasn't breathing and didn't have
a pulse. Panic-stricken, Angela immediately called 911. Paramedics arrived
within minutes and used a defibrillator to get his heart beating again. Had
Nemo not sensed that something was wrong, Angela would not have identified
Peter's condition in time, an outcome that is unfathomable for Angela to even
consider. Nemo is not only Angela's best buddy, he is also her hero.

    Sophie (Olds, AB)

    Early one morning, Mary-Ann Lazurko awoke to Sophie, her one-and-a-half
year old Bijon Frisé, vigorously tossing about on her bed. As Mary-Ann tried
to calm Sophie down, she thought she heard noise coming from her diabetic
daughter Belinda's room, but disregarded it and tried to fall back to sleep -
but Sophie wouldn't let her. She began to pace peculiarly back and forth
across the bed. When Mary-Ann got up Sophie instantaneously bolted to
Belinda's room. Mary-Ann rushed after the dog and discovered that Belinda had
slipped into a diabetic coma. Her daughter was unresponsive and her blood
sugar had plummeted to a dangerously low level. Being a paramedic, Mary-Ann
desperately tried to revive her while her husband called 911. Upon arrival,
the ambulance crew started Belinda on an IV and was thankfully able to help
her regain consciousness. Thanks to Sophie's diligence and persistence,
Belinda has recovered and is forever grateful to Sophie.

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

    Ray Lau, a Hamilton Police Search and Rescue team volunteer, was pleased
to adopt Ace, an energetic and rambunctious Dutch-Shepherd. In late December,
after extensive training, Ace went to work for the very first time searching
for a woman who had been missing for three full days outside, following a
massive and lengthy snowstorm in Ancaster, Ontario. Ray and Ace were three
hours into their search when Ace suddenly bolted away, giving indication that
he detected a human scent. Ace ran through the deep snow at full speed for
roughly 75 metres. Then, he stopped suddenly, lowered his head, and started
barking repeatedly into the snow. Looking down, Ray saw a face peeking out
from the snow - the missing woman had been found and to everyone's amazement
was still alive and conscious. Had Ace not found her when he did, the outcome
would have been very different. Ace demonstrated his true purpose that day: to
save others just as Ray had saved him.

    At Nestlé Purina PetCare, commitment to pets, responsible pet ownership
and the unique relationship with pets is reflected in their promise, "Your
Pet, Our Passion(R)". In addition to the Purina Animal Hall of Fame, Purina
works with and supports various animal associations, such as National Service
Dogs, Dog Guides Canada and Pacific Assistance Dog Society as well as sponsors
national and regional breeder shows.
    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:

For further information: To request an interview, learn more about these
inductees or obtain photography please contact: Julienne Spence, Stacey
Flowers, Environics Communications, (416) 969-2765, (416) 969-2752,
jspence@environicspr.com, sflowers@environicspr.com


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