Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society will honor four extraordinary animal advocates and one superstar animal at the first annual Dakin Humane Awards celebration on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. at the Wyckoff Country Club in Holyoke.
We will present three community-based awards along with a philanthropy and a lifetime achievement award in recognition of these individuals who make the Pioneer Valley a better place for animals and people:
*State Representative Cheryl Coakley Rivera is the recipient of the Dakin Champion Award for her tireless advocacy as a public servant on behalf of those most in need of a strong voice in Boston, including the animals. Rep. Coakley Rivera passionately and convincingly led the fight to prevent the unnecessary devocalization of dogs and cats, has argued against legislation that attempts to ban specific breeds, and has been recognized for her exemplary efforts to help end greyhound racing in Massachusetts.
*Eleven year old Colin Scully will be presented with the Dakin Youth Award for his commitment to helping animals at a local cat sanctuary. Along with his dad, Colin spends hours every Sunday caring for the cats and helping out with special projects, which include providing extra attention to cats nearing the end of their lives. This selfless young man rises above the heartbreak he sometimes faces and returns each week to help "his cats" enjoy his love and gentle touch.
*Hawley resident, Rarie Dye, will be honored with the Richard and Nathalie Woodbury Award, named after the couple whose vision and legacy secured Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society's future. From the time she relocated from Texas to Franklin County in the 1980's, Ms. Dye believed it was "important to support your local animal shelter." Through a merger and its recent expansion into Hampden County, Ms. Dye has played a major role in the success of the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society. Rarie Dye's generosity, while quietly given, has largely helped Dakin become the organization it is today.
*The Janet Wilder Dakin Lifetime Achievement Award will honor Judy Smith, who has been with Dain from its roots as Friends of Amherst's Stray Animals in the 1980's. She worked alongside Janet Dakin to improve the lives of homeless animals in the northern counties. Ms. Smith long served as the organization's treasurer, continuing her commitment as a member of the board of directors through Dakin's expansion into Hampden County. According to Executive Director, Leslie Harris, "From Dakin's earliest days, Judy has done and amazing amount of daily, hands-on volunteer work, all the while maintaining a complete and detailed understanding of the organization's increasingly complex financial position. Judy's retirement from the board in 2011 marked the end of a long volunteer career that helped position Dakin as the pre-eminent animal charity in the Pioneer Valley."
*The Dakin Animal Hero Award will be presented to K-9 Dakota, the first and only accelerant-detecting canine with Springfield's Arson & Bomb Squad. Dakota recently retired after 12 yars of service, making him one of the oldest working dogs in the country. Near the end of his career, Dakota was involved in the investigation of a church fire that drew national attention. His distinguished career began following his adoption from an animal shelter. A children's book, Pound Puppy to Fire Dog, has been written in his honor.
In addition to the award recipients, special guest Cherry Garcia, one of 22 dogs taken from the home of notorious dog fighter, Michael Vick, will be joined by his family, including companion dog Madison and humans Paul and Melissa. They will share the story of Cherry's journey from a life of abuse as a bait dog who was completely shut down emotionally when rescued to a happy, charismatic dog and much-loved family member. Cherry now makes many public appearances to raise awareness about his breed.
We are grateful to our sponsors for the Dakin Humane Awards: Five Star Building Corp., Berkshire Bank, Baystate Health, White Rose Memorial Services, Hart & Patterson Financial Services, and Bertera Subaru. Our generous media sponsors are WWLP-22News, WAMC Northeast Public Radio, and the Valley Advocate.
You are cordially invited to come celebrate these remarkable individuals and support Dakin's work on behalf of animals. With Master of Ceremonies WAMC's Paul Tuthill and your host, WWLP-22News meterologist Brian Lapis, this promises to be a memorable and fun evening. Dinner will be followed by dancing to the Floyd Patterson Band. Find more information, including tickets, online at www.dpvhs.org or by calling 413-781-4000 x DOG (364).
See you there!