Every dog affects the lives of his or her individual humans daily, but a fluffy pup named Fiona has reached millions of people around the world. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will honor her as Dog of the Year tomorrow (Nov. 8) during its 2012 Humane Awards luncheon in New York City.
Fiona came to the attention of animal lovers in November 2010, when Eldad and Audrey Hagar found the senior Poodle mix living blind in a trash heap in South Los Angeles. They shared her rescue on YouTube and Facebook with a request for donations. Surgery could restore sight to one of Fiona’s eyes, but Hope for Paws — the animal welfare organization run by the Hagars — needed help to cover the cost.
Enough money came in, and Fiona regained partial sight. She starred in multiple follow-up videos before being adopted by Michele and Chris Gentry in February 2011.
Since then, Fiona’s story of survival has gone viral, resulting in global media coverage and 5.5 million YouTube views to date (when you combine the videos uploaded by the Hagars with those reuploaded by other YouTube users). The little dog has made quite an impact, showing the world what can happen when a homeless animal gets a second chance.
“She has really made a difference in a lot of people’s lives,” says Eldad Hagar, whom Dogster profiled earlier this year. “In Atlanta, I met this young woman at a conference for animal bloggers who said that two days after she saw Fiona’s video, she went and rescued a dog with no eyes. Fiona’s story inspired her to rescue a dog with special needs.”
In addition to boosting adoption rates for special-needs dogs, Hagar says donations made in Fiona’s honor have allowed the organization to help numerous other homeless animals. The Hagars and the Gentrys will be on hand Thursday (Nov. 8) when Fiona receives her award, as well as later that day during a meet-and-greet at their hotel. All are welcome to attend the meet-and-greet, which is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Sheraton New York, 811 7th Avenue.
The ASPCA’s 2012 Humane Awards luncheon will also honor others — animal and human alike — who have made a significant impact on the lives of animals. A kitty named Scooter from Fox Chapel, PA, will take home the Cat of the Year award. He was found abandoned on the street, his back legs useless, but like Fiona he received excellent veterinary care. Supporters even donated funds to purchase him a custom-made wheeled mobility device, and now he visits a nursing home and rehabilitation hospital weekly to inspire patients who lack mobility due to injury or stroke.
For a full list of honorees, visit the ASPCA website.