Petco Love & Victoria Stilwell Positively Honor Five Unsung Heroes Who Quietly Heal and Save Pet Lives

Celebrating the everyday heroes who help transform the lives of animals – and the people who care for and love them

Petco Love & Victoria Stilwell Positively Honor Five Unsung Heroes Who Quietly Heal and Save Pet Lives

Media Contact:

Lisa Lane Cardin, Petco Love, media@petcolove.org 

San Antonio, Tex.  April 5, 2022 Petco Love and world-renowned dog trainer Victoria Stilwell honor this year’s Unsung Heroes, whose individual stories of their extraordinary lifesaving efforts for animals are powerful – and stirring. The Unsung Heroes award celebrates their tireless and lifesaving work both as a thank you to them and as a point of inspiration to those who see their stories.

Petco Love and Victoria Stilwell Positively traveled throughout the country to surprise these Unsung Heroes with a $10,000 grant award for their animal welfare organizations and to document their work. Victoria Stilwell Positively created five short films on behalf of Petco Love to honor these heroes by sharing their stories.

Now through April 18, animal lovers can view all the Unsung Hero stories and vote for their favorite as the national Unsung Hero award winner. Petco Love will award the hero with the most votes an additional $25,000 to support and further their powerful work. Viewing and voting for the national awardee is here: petcolove.org/unsunghero.

“Heroes are all around us; heroes are in every community who dedicate their lives to helping animals. They are true lifesaving champions,” said Susanne Kogut, president of Petco Love. “Honoring these extraordinary people and sharing their stories is our way of thanking them, and we hope they inspire others to be heroes, too.”

This year’s Unsung Heroes honorees include:

  • Samira Yahi, Fairfield County Animal Shelter (Winnsboro, South Carolina): Sam is the personification of a hero. Her second job — to and from which she drives 90 minutes each way, every day after her first job — is as a tireless volunteer for an underfunded shelter. From coordinating transports and fundraising to promoting adoptions across all social channels, those who work with Sam at FCC credit her with singlehandedly reducing the euthanasia rate. She has improved the lives of over 4,000 animals to date and she’s nowhere near finished with her lifesaving work.
  • Eric Jayne DVM, Sovereign Nations Veterinary (Rosebud, South Dakota): The Unsung Hero award was granted posthumously this year to Eric for his indefatigable work on behalf of animals in need throughout his 50-year career. His life ended too soon in a tragic accident, but his Unsung Hero award honors his unparalleled work. Eric dedicated his life to dismantling institutionalized racism by creating opportunities for self-determination for tribal members on Indian reservations. He also created and worked in spay/neuter clinics domestically and abroad. He was a tireless advocate for both humans and animals and his legacy of caring will continue for generations to come.
  • Jerry Anderson, Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association (Charleston, West Virginia): An army veteran who served 15 years on overseas deployments, Jerry is known as generous, humble, and big-hearted. As an animal control officer, he’s been dedicated to serving Kanawha County animals for almost 10 years, possessing the remarkable ability to help – whether people or animals – with patience, compassion, and love.
  • Jennifer Stonequist DVM, Kitsap Humane Society (Silverdale, Washington): Dr. Jen – as she’s known – whose compassion for animals and people is contagious, has helped transform Kitsap Humane Society into a beloved non-profit known for its high-lifesaving rate. Over the last 11 years, she’s saved the lives of countless pets in her community and in Mulegé, Mexico during yearly “spay-cations.” She helped alter legislation in WA to allow shelters to treat pets from low-income families, keeping them together. Trained in mindfulness, Dr. Jen also provides mentorship and compassion fatigue training to veterinary professionals across the country.
  • Jayne Johnson, Lifeline Puppy Rescue (New Mexico and Brighton, Colorado): For 18 years, Jayne Johnson and her husband helped saved the lives of 50,000 homeless puppies and mom dogs, mainly from rural New Mexico, by coordinating and transporting them to waiting homes in Colorado. Jane, whose husband passed away in 2020, continues to coordinate with 35 shelters and rescues to ensure nearly 50 puppies a week make their way to new homes. Her unrelenting service on behalf of these pets has created as many new families as dogs she has saved, and Jane has generated positive impact for generations to come.

Exceeding the daily hard work of saving animals, Unsung Heroes share Petco Love’s mission to create a lifesaving nation. Their powerful stories reveal the enormous difference one person can make in creating a better world for pets – and for the people who love them.

“Seeing what these incredible, humble people do in their communities is inspiring,” said Victoria Stilwell. “It was a tremendous honor to record their spirit and compassion, and I’m very excited for a wider audience to witness their amazing work in the Unsung Heroes video series.”

Petco Love wants animal lovers across the nation to help select the $25,000 awardee through popular vote. Watch the stories here: petcolove.org/unsunghero. Voting closes April 18, 2022.

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About Petco Love

Petco Love is a nonprofit changing lives by making communities and pet families healthier, stronger, and closer. Since our founding in 1999 as the Petco Foundation, we’ve empowered animal welfare organizations by investing $330 million in adoption and other lifesaving efforts. We’ve helped find loving homes for more than 6.5 million pets in partnership with Petco and organizations nationwide. Our love for pets drives us to lead with innovation, creating tools animal lovers need to reunite lost pets and lead with passion, inspiring and mobilizing communities and our more than 4,000 animal welfare partners to drive lifesaving change alongside us.

Is love calling you? Visit petcolove.org or follow on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to join the lifesaving work we lead every day.

About Victoria Stilwell

Victoria Stilwell is a world-renowned dog trainer and behavior expert, best known as the star of the international hit TV series It’s Me or the Dog (Animal Planet, US).  Having filmed over 130 episodes since 2005, Stilwell reaches a worldwide audience with her philosophy of positive, humane dog training methods. She also served as a judge for Greatest American Dog (CBS) and as the on-camera behavior specialist for Dogs Might Fly (Sky One) and the One Show (BBC1). She recently created, produced and narrated the popular nature series, Dogs With Extraordinary Jobs (Smithsonian Channel).

Stilwell is the founder and President of the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training and Behavior – the world’s premier dog trainer educational institution, creating new generations of positive dog trainers and enhancing “The Future of Dog Training.” She is the author of four best-selling books: It’s Me or the Dog – How to have the Perfect Pet, Train Your Dog Positively, The Secret Language of Dogs and The Ultimate Guide to Raising a Puppy. Her website www.positively.com is a popular destination for dog lovers across the globe.

A regular guest on talk shows, news broadcasts and radio programs in the US, Europe and Asia, Stilwell has been the recipient of multiple international awards and honors. She was the resident pet expert on CNN’s HLN and has been a regular columnist for several magazines including The Bark, American Dog, Dogster and Dogs Today. She has been featured in numerous journals, magazines and newspapers including The New York Times, USA Today, Cosmopolitan, Time.com, Oprah Magazine, Rachael Ray Everyday, MSNBC.com, Self Magazine, Shape Magazine, The Daily Mail, the Sunday Times, The Mirror and The Sun.

A co-founder of the National Dog Behavior Conference series, Stilwell also serves on the Advisory Boards of RedRover, The Grey Muzzle Foundation, DogTV, Canine Assistants, and the Georgia Pet Coalition, and is an ambassador for the RSPCA and the Soi Dog Foundation.

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