Belle and Sundance before their rescue.
McBride, a small town in Robson Valley with fewer than 1000 people, received the Kevin Anderson Award of Heroism from the British Columbia SPCA at its annual awards evening.
Village residents rallied for what the SPCA called the epic rescue of two abandoned horses last Christmas in the Mount Renshaw snowmobile area.
Village volunteers toiled for 12 straight days shovelling a one-kilometre trench through heavy snow to pave a path to safety for Sundance, a 14-year-old gelding, and Belle, a three-year-old mare.
The volunteers braved temperatures as low as -30deg Celsius. Their trench linked up with a snowmobile track, which completed the horse's path for freedom.
The animals were led free on December 23.
Other recipients at the awards ceremony in Vancouver:
Philanthropist of the Year
Jacquie Somerville (Vancouver and the Interior) - Jacquie Somerville has been helping animals since she was a child in South Africa, when she would ride her pony through sugar cane fields and remove wire snare traps set by locals to trap unsuspecting wildlife. Her love of animals continued to guide her into adulthood and across continents through the BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In addition to the large personal contributions Somerville and her partner, Wayne Deans, make to the BC SPCA, Somerville is an enthusiastic supporter of the Scotiabank & BC SPCA Paws for a Cause campaign and was the top pledge collector in B.C. in 2006 and 2007, raising more than $50,000. In 2007, she generated another $330,000 for the society through a third-party fundraiser she organized.
Pepper - A miniature schnauzer adopted from the BC SPCA's Powell River Branch who has the uncanny ability to detect in his guardian, Bailey, when her blood sugar is low. Bailey has type 1 diabetes and Pepper has detected the early onset of a seizure three times since she adopted him.
Animal Courage Award (2)
1. Tiger - A young male pit bull, Tiger was doused in gasoline and set on fire last summer in Trail, B.C. Tiger's ear was so badly burned it had to be amputated. Tiger has recovered from his horrific injuries but still requires special care to protect parts of his skin where the hair will never grow back. He remains a sweet and gentle dog, and is adored by his new guardians, Tom and Monica Bodie of Victoria.
2. Wy-It - A tiny, young shepherd mix, Wy-It was born with three deformed legs and soon after developed parvo virus. He beat the latter, but his legs cannot be repaired and he will always have an awkward gait. Still, he stole the heart of his guardian, Cowichan & District Branch manager Sandi Trent, who takes him to visit local elementary schools where he teaches children about compassion, tolerance, respect and appreciation for our differences.
Stu Rammage Award
Justice Janveaux (Campbell River) - Thirteen-year-old Justice Janveaux has been a top youth pledge collector in the Scotiabank & BC SPCA Paws for a Cause… Walk for the Animals for the last four years, raising more than $10,000 in total, including a whopping $5,846 last year alone. Justice also personally campaigned for pet-safe antifreeze and made presentations to her classmates at school, created posters to raise awareness about the campaign, and collected 1,000 signatures on petitions calling for a ban on the harmful substance. Earlier this year, the provincial government announced a new regulation that requires the addition of a bittering agent to antifreeze sold in B.C. to deter pets from accidentally ingesting the substance and Justice's work on the campaign contributed to this change.
Life Achievement (3)
1. Tom Hughes - A former Vancouver man, Tom Hughes is a pioneer in the field of animal welfare, having spent more than 50 years working on behalf of animals. Hughes' advocacy work has resulted in marked improvements to the way million of animals are cared for in shelters and slaughterhouses across the country. Among his accomplishments, he created the BC SPCA's first animal shelters after being appalled by the lack of effort by the city pound to re-home animals in its care. Hughes also worked to ease the suffering of farm animals by establishing humane methods of euthanasia in slaughterhouses.
2. Friends of the SPCA (Vancouver) - Friends of the SPCA is a dedicated group of women who, since the 1960s, have been raising money to meet the medical care needs of abused and abandoned animals at the BC SPCA's Vancouver Animal Hospital. The group has raised more than half a million dollars for sick and injured animals through regular charity bazaars in March, June, September and November. Before each quarterly sale, the members hunker down inside a boardroom at the BC SPCA's Vancouver Community Animal Centre and painstakingly collect and sort through thousands of donated items.
3. Kelowna BC SPCA Auxiliary (Kelowna) - Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the Kelowna BC SPCA Auxiliary is the oldest and largest auxiliary of the BC SPCA. The group has raised more than $25,000 every year to fund services at the society's Kelowna branch. The auxiliary has supported sponsorships, animal care programs and most recently, renovations to the cat rooms and reception area of the shelter. The auxiliary is busy year-round, raising funds through monthly luncheons and sales in a local church hall and monthly garage sales and barbecues during the summer. Members also manage the branch's donation can program and assist each year with the Scotiabank & BC SPCA Paws for a Cause campaign.
Veterinarian of the Year
Abbotsford Veterinary Hospital (Dr. Chris and Susan Taylor) - The Taylors and their team spay and neuter about 700 animals a year at cost, they don't charge for pet exams or boarding, and they discount all other treatments for the BC SPCA. In peak season, the Taylors perform as many as 10 spay/neuters a day for the society. They also provide space at their clinic for SPCA notices, they house and care for an adoptable rabbit in their waiting room and they participate in SPCA fundraisers and events.
Volunteer of the Year (2)
1. Brenda Plaxton (Salt Spring Island) - Brenda Plaxton has been a volunteer with the BC SPCA's Salt Spring Island Branch since 2000. She is the shelter's resident expert in rabbit care and welfare and coordinates rabbit care protocols. For the last eight years, she's also donated all the fresh produce for their diet and personally transports rabbits between shelters to increase their exposure and chances of finding permanent homes.
2. Norma Popescul (Abbotsford) - Norma Popescul has been volunteering for the BC SPCA for 18 years, doing everything from cleaning cat kennels and fundraising to chairing the Abbotsford branch's community council. She began volunteering in 1991 at the Vancouver branch, while at the same time volunteering at the SPCA shelter in Surrey to clean cat kennels. She later joined the Chilliwack branch as a volunteer and finally ended up at the Abbotsford branch six years ago.
Staff Excellence (2)
1. Kathleen Embree (Campbell River) - Manager of the BC SPCA's Campbell River Branch, Kathleen Embree has been with the society for 23 years. Dedicated and caring, she is highly regarded by her staff, peers and managers alike. Embree is also a cruelty investigator.
2. Shannon Broderick (Sunshine Coast) - Manager of the BC SPCA's Sunshine Coast Branch, Shannon Broderick is a fixture at the shelter any day of the week. She has built up the branch's volunteer base and made significant inroads in the community, which have helped raise the shelter's profile.
Investigator of the Year
Erica Paul - In the last two years, special provincial constable Erica Paul has brought forward 24 animal cruelty charges to Crown counsel, executed 13 search warrants to assist animals in distress and made countless inroads in the local, provincial and First Nations communities to advance the cause of animal welfare. Based in the Capital Regional District, she has been called a compassionate, tireless worker who is relentless in her pursuit of justice for animals.
A Channel or "A" - Vancouver Island news station "A" has been helping homeless animals in the region for years. The station runs profiles of adoptable animals and public service announcements on campaigns and events, supports the Scotiabank & BC SPCA Paws for a Cause… Walk for the Animals with promotion as well as a media team called the Media Mutts and sponsors the Victoria branch Just Desserts gala with coverage and by producing a beautiful commercial for the event. "A" also supports Wild ARC
Branch of the Year
Burnaby - In 2008, the BC SPCA's Burnaby Branch increased adoptions and fundraising while reducing expenses and the average number of days animals spend in shelter care. The branch found homes for 515 animals in 2008, compared to 493 in 2007. In addition, animals were adopted more quickly from the Burnaby Community Animal Centre than from other shelters across the province.