2018 Assisi Awards Winners

Each year, the New Zealand Companion Animal Council (NZCAC) presents the Assisi Awards in "recognition of outstanding service to animals" to individuals who have contributed to the welfare of animals, whether in New Zealand or internationally. The awards, named in honour of the Patron Saint of Animals, St Francis of Assisi, are an acknowledgement by the NZCAC of the achievements of those whose goals echo the principles of excellence in animal welfare.

At the Companion Animal Conference in September 2018 the NZCAC had the privilege of presenting the Assisi Awards to two very deserving individuals: Gina Kemp (SPCA National Rescue Unit (NRU)) and Pamela Howard (Dogwatch Sanctuary Trust).

Gina Kemp, Technical Rescue Coordinator with the Wellington-based SPCA National Rescue Unit (NRU), leads a group of internationally qualified emergency response volunteers who provide a technical rescue service for trapped animals. The SPCA in Wellington founded the NRU in 1995 and is the only SPCA centre in New Zealand to have such a specialist rescue capability, epitomised by the rescue of over 70 animals from the red zone immediately following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake and over 900 animals during the 2017 Edgecumbe flooding. Gina, the only Animal Rescue Technician Instructor in Oceania, organises and runs training sessions with professional organisations and has obtained Rescue3 Animal Rescue Technician Instructor Status. Since taking on her role three years ago Gina has built an outstanding team of volunteers whose services have received national recognition. In 2017 Gina clocked up over 600 hours of volunteer service in addition to her 40+ hours a week job as an SPCA Inspector in Wellington.

Pamela Howard, Manager of Dogwatch Sanctuary Trust, and her husband Neil first became involved with the organisation in 1984 when they would provide a caring, safe and friendly foster home for dogs while they were being prepared to move to their forever homes. In her tenure at Dogwatch, Pam and her husband have given thousands of hours and have seen the Dogwatch complex evolve with the addition of a second kennel block in 2014, giving the complex more capacity resulting in more dogs being housed from local authority dog shelters throughout Canterbury. Pam works tirelessly managing the complex, training volunteers and providing one on one training and assessments of all dogs that come into their care. Pam has built a strong network within the Christchurch and Canterbury community including local government, SPCA, vets and other dog rescue organisations. She is a regular and strong voice within the NZCAC Canterbury Forum and she is considered an expert in the dog rescue fraternity throughout New Zealand. Pam’s vision, determination and passion has given thousands of unwanted dogs a second chance at life.

Barry Helem, NZCAC Chair says “It is very gratifying to see these two examples of many years of self-sacrifice and dedication in service to animals recognised. The NZCAC Board is delighted to acknowledge both Gina and Pam as very worthy recipients of these prestigious awards.”

Congratulations and thank you to these two very worthy winners of the 2018 Assisi Awards.