Contest Honors Pets' Stories of Survival

One cat and nine dogs are chosen as finalists in a contest promoting awareness for rescued pets and their human helpers.

Posted: October 18 2007 5 a.m. EDT

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Photo by Alex Berliner © Berliner Studio/BEImages
Max poses with his owner, Kathryn Gress (left) and actress Emily Proctor.
On a cold Pennsylvania evening, a cat named Max was put out with the trash and left to his own resources. Max escaped his surroundings and hid in the garden of a cat lover, where he was found with a deep gash in his shoulder.

He was brought to The Cat Shack, a rescue organization in Trexlertown, Pa., where he recovered from his injuries. Max now has a permanent home with Kathryn Gress and works as a therapy animal due to his calm, inviting demeanor.

Theresa Clifford of The Cat Shack submitted Max’s story for Purina ProPlan’s “Doing More for Pets” contest as part of its Rally to Rescue campaign. Contest officials were scouting for survival stories from rescue organizations in an effort to promote awareness as well as the untold stories of rescued pets and the people who help them. Approximately 100 stories were submitted and 10 finalists were chosen. Max was the lone cat to make the cut.

“We had a panel that reviewed all those submittals,” said Ken Wilhelm, brand director for Purina ProPlan and manager for the Rally to Rescue campaign. “The 10 that kind of reached into [the judges’] hearts and had a true connection with them are the ones that were picked...They are all winners.”

All of the finalists received a year’s supply of ProPlan pet food and a trip to Los Angeles for the grand prize winner announcement ceremony, which took place Oct. 12, 2007. Even as Max was surrounded by dogs — some large and some loud — Max kept his composure as his owner held him in her arms, without a trace of fear in his eyes.

“CSI: Miami” actress Emily Proctor joined Purina officials to recognize the finalists and reveal the winner. Proctor has been involved with the contest from the beginning and helped choose the 10 finalists.

“I’ve known these animals’ stories for the last year, and to get to know them is so special,” Proctor said. “I’ve rescued animals my whole life, and so they asked if I’d like to be involved. People always say, ‘oh, is it fun being on a show and traveling around?’  But I have to say it’s the perks of the job like this that make the entire experience. I love animals so much. It’s so nice to be asked to help.”

The grand prize winner was chosen by popular vote via Purina’s Rally to Rescue website. After more than 20,000 votes, a Siberian Husky named Rummy finished on top. Rummy was so severely neglected that a Houston SPCA K-9 investigator removed him from his owner’s care after his was found blind, emaciated and missing clumps of hair. He was later diagnosed with mange, heartworms, roundworms, hookworms and whipworms.

Rummy was taken to Husky Haven, a Siberian Husky rescue organization, where he recovered from the abhorrent conditions where he was found. Today, Rummy is a trusting, buoyant and fearless dog with a thick coat of hair who loves attention. Although he’s blind, he walks without fear, and an unknowing eye would find if difficult to distinguish Rummy from a sighted dog.

Rummy’s win means Purina will donate $5,000 worth of ProPlan dog food to Husky Haven.

“Every good rescue story has a rescue person behind it,” Wilhelm said. “Every one of these stories is just amazing. All received hundreds or thousands of votes.”

To read other animals’ stories of survival, visit the Rally to Rescue website.

-Heidi Hatch, Associate News Editor for CatChannel.com

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Reader Comments

Martha    Shreveport, LA

6/7/2009 3:42:42 PM

I'm concerned i'm convinced my cat has Mange but i don't know how to treat it!!! Can anyone lend advice?!

Sheryl    Casa Grande, AZ

10/18/2007 2:28:37 PM

Hats off to all involved!

Nikki    Chicago, IL

10/18/2007 8:20:46 AM

What a great contest. Kind of heart-breaking that such terrific creatures have to go through such pain and suffering to find loving owners.

Sharon    Hammond, IN

10/18/2007 5:55:05 AM

What a wonderful thing to do, Honor the animals and the people who rescued them.

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