AHA 2019 WEB logo Jul22

 

MALI

Sniffed out insurgents and bombs under heavy fire as British special forces and Afghan troops raided a Taliban-held hotel in Kabul. 

Footage from the battle in 2012 showed the Belgian Malinois staying calm as commandos scaled an outside wall and hauled him up several floors to bring him into action. 

Sent through direct fire to search for explosives, he was hoisted up the outside of the building several times and also skillfully detected the presence of enemy fighters. 

Despite being injured by three grenade blasts – causing damage to his chest, legs, ears and teeth – he persevered in the seven-and-a-half-hour mission. 

Mali retired from frontline duties after lengthy treatment for injuries sustained in the firefight but is still involved in training. 

Last November the eight-year-old was honoured with a PDSA Dickin Medal – the animal equivalent to the Victoria Cross. His citation reads: “Mali displayed outstanding courage in the face of fire and there is no doubt that his actions throughout the operation were pivotal in breaking an enemy stronghold.” 

Lt Col Abby DuBaree, of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps said: “We are exceptionally proud of him.” Mali’s handler at the time of the battle received the Military Cross. 

LINDA GOODMAN

Founder of anti-puppy farm campaign CARIAD, who has spearheaded changes in the law and makes personal sacrifices to illustrate the plight of farmed dogs.

Linda adopted a golden retriever called Amy in 2009, who had been rescued from a licensed Welsh farm. She had been used for breeding for seven years and was anxious, covered in scars and had undergone surgery to remove nine mammary tumours.

Having seen what puppy farming had done to her pet, Linda joined a protest against a 196-dog farm in Carmarthenshire the following year. It was unsuccessful - but the experience left her determined to keep fighting.

She launched CARIAD (Care And Respect Includes All Dogs) in 2011, with the name taken from the Welsh word for beloved. The campaign aims to end puppy farming in Wales, which produces more puppies than any other part of the UK.

The tireless campaigner has since created a coalition of 29 small Welsh animal charities and lobbied the Welsh government and councils for a successful reduction of staff ratios at these farms from 30 to 20:1.

Linda takes the CARIAD message to events around Wales to educate the public about the trade and the condition of the animals bred there, all legally at present.

Such is her dedication to the cause that in 2012, Linda spent seven days incarcerated in an outbuilding to show the sensory deprivation of puppies in farms, with her experience broadcast live online.

This isn’t her only sacrifice. Her hands-on and vocal approach to improving animal welfare means she has faced death threats and taken great personal risk to secure evidence about poor welfare for the authorities and to animal charities.

Linda, 56, played a key role in the Lucy's Law team, backed by the Daily Mirror, which successfully campaigned to stop the trade in puppies by pet shops and third-party dealers.

She said: “The more we learn about how the system fails these dogs, the more shocking it becomes. It’s like digging up a bone and realising that there’s a whole skeleton in there if you look hard enough.”

BARRIE

Puppy pulled from the rubble in war-torn Syria is thriving after 3,000-mile trip to be reunited with the former soldier who saved her. 

Bomb disposal expert Sean Laidlaw was clearing a bombed-out school in February 2018, when he heard whimpering from beneath the rubble. He dug down and discovered Barrie, a tiny Asian Shepherd cross puppy. 

She was terrified, and surrounded by four dead puppies, and initially shied away from Sean - but he refused to give up. He brought her food and drink, and cordoned off the area as it wasn't safe from explosives. 

After three days she grew to trust him, and the two became inseparable over the following three months he was working in Syria. 

Sean, who served for 10 years in the Royal Engineers, including two tours in Afghanistan, says Barrie helped him cope with PTSD. "It may come across that I saved Barrie's life, but I feel like she saved mine. You can only imagine how bad Syria is, and to have a companion, it kept my mind away from all the things I was seeing and doing out there.” 

When Sean returned to Britain, he immediately set about bringing Barrie to join him, with the help of charity War Paws. But it took seven months, including three months in quarantine in Jordan, before the paperwork was in order, and she was flown to Paris where Sean was waiting to meet her. 

"One of my biggest fears was that she wouldn't recognise who I was, or that she would be a different dog to the girl I left. It was pure joy when she realised who I was." 

TONY CARLISLE 

Founder of the Great North Dog Walk has helped to raise millions of pounds for animal causes despite suffering a series of health problems. 

Tony’s first event in 1990 involved just 12 schoolchildren with 13 dogs. Since then, the annual charity walk has raised more than £8 million for various animal charities, with an estimated 35,000 dogs taking part in 2018, and 185 different breeds. 

The former teacher has carried on with his fundraising activities despite battling health problems including a heart attack, three heart operations, three skin cancer operations and diabetes. 

But he was forced to cancel the 2019 event on doctors’ orders after nearly dying from sepsis earlier this year. He says he will be back in time for the 30th anniversary walk in 2020. 

The Great North Dog Walk holds several Guinness World Records as the world’s largest charity dog walk. Walkers choose who they raise funds for each year from a list of beneficiaries, the majority of which are animal organisations. 

It is an inclusive event, with routes to suit pushchairs, wheelchairs, the elderly and older dogs. Tony, 62, from South Shields, said: “I love what I do, particularly on the day when I can see people coming together from the local community - all for the love of dogs.”

INSPECTOR KEVIN KELLY

Wildlife supercop set up and leads record-breaking team targeting wildlife crime. 

When it comes to dealing with the vital but often-overlooked issue of wildlife crime, Inspector Kev Kelly follows a simple rule. “I will treat an animal as a victim of crime like I would a person. People may think I’m barking mad but you are giving a consistent level of service,” he says. 

In 2017, the animal-loving police officer was named as Wildlife Law Enforcer of the Year at the Wildlife Crime Conference for his tireless and innovative work in tackling rural crime in North Yorkshire. 

He initially started working on offences that affected animals in his spare time but persuaded bosses to set up a dedicated wildlife team. He is now influencing national and regional policy in tackling criminals involved in illegal activities like hare coursing, setting templates for investigations and how to interview suspects. 

His job varies from protecting bats and great crested newts to prosecuting people involved in illegal fox-hunting and the killing of birds of prey. His award followed a year in which his team made a record 101 arrests for wildlife crime offences and he led an investigation called Operation Jumbo, that targetted hare coursing, badgering and animal cruelty. 

He has secured convictions for badger baiting, bat disturbance, greater crested newts habitat destruction and raptor persecution, and in 2008, also secured North Yorkshire Police’s first ever convictions under the Hunting Act against three men involved in fox hunting. 

FLEUR

Survived horrific ill-treatment in Romania before being rescued from a kill shelter, becoming a therapy dog in the UK. 

Fleur, a Collie cross, was taken from the streets of Bucharest by dog catchers, and after a botched spaying which left her intestines hanging outside her body, was left to die. 

After she was rescued by the Valgrays animal charity, Wendy Morris saw her picture on their website, and instantly decided to adopt her. 

Three weeks after starting her new life in Britain with Wendy and her two other rescue dogs, she fell seriously ill with a rotten bowel. The vet gave her a 1% chance of survival and recommended euthanasia, but Wendy sought a second opinion from specialists at the Royal Veterinary College in Potters Bar. 

After rare and complex surgery, and weeks in intensive care, Fleur made a full recovery. 

She has now become a Pets As Therapy Read2dog, going into primary schools to help children read and communicate. She also visits nursing and residential homes and is an ambassador for rescue dogs. 

Wendy said: “I’m so thankful to everyone who was involved in giving Fleur a chance in life.” 

JAY WILDE

Cattle farmer donated his cows to an animal sanctuary because he could not bear to send them to slaughter, and became a vegan campaigner. 

After his decision became known, local residents mocked him and began referring to his property as the funny farm. His brother-in-law, who runs a cattle farm six miles away, told him that he was mad to give away animals worth £40,000 at market. 

Jay took over Bradley Nook Farm in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, when his father died in 2011 and for the next few years found it “soul-destroying” every time he consigned an animal to “a terrifying death” at an abattoir. 

He also felt guilty about the environmental impact of rearing cattle for beef and first tried to offset the harm by installing solar panels. 

Eventually he decided to stop farming animals and worked with the Vegan Society to donate 59 of his cows to live out their natural lives at Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Norfolk. He kept a small number to graze parts of the farm where their trampling and feeding benefits wildlife. 

“They do have personalities and they experience the world,” he said. “They are not just robots that eat and sleep.” 

Jay, whose story features in the Bafta-winning short film 73 Cows, is now applying for permission to build three polytunnels in which to grow organic vegetables and hopes to open a vegan restaurant and possibly a vegan cookery school.

RICH HARDY

Undercover investigator has exposed some of the most heinous examples of animal abuse around the world for nearly 20 years. 

Rich’s pictures and video footage from inside places such as abattoirs, factories, circuses and livestock markets have been used worldwide by more than 20 international animal protection charities, helping to launch campaigns, change laws and inspire people to take action for animals. 

He has documented animal suffering in 28 countries, providing organisations with key evidence to push for new welfare laws, pursue animal cruelty prosecutions or raise public awareness about the need to treat animals with kindness and respect. 

His many assignments have included infiltrating fur trappers in the USA and monkey breeding farms in Asia, as well as undercover investigations into the meat industry, live exports, ritual slaughter of sheep in Singapore, and the horrific battery farming of rabbits for use in pet food sold in Britain. 

The former leader of Surfers Against Sewage has worked with charities including Compassion in World Farming, Born Free, Humane Society International, Eurogroup for Animals, Cruelty Free International, Four Paws and World Animal Protection. 

Although his work has been widely featured in campaigns and news outlets, he has always remained anonymous to allow him to continue working undercover. His identity can now be revealed as he is giving up undercover work to focus on activism and campaigning. 

Now working with the Veganuary campaign, he also runs a micro-sanctuary for dogs, cats, chickens and ducks he and his partner have rescued from shelters and factory farms. 

FINLAY PRINGLE 

Wildlife and plastic pollution campaigner hailed a hero by Chris Packham.

Finlay regularly protests, speaks at events and in the media, and is a powerful voice for the planet. 

He has organised a weekly climate mini-strike at his school in Ullapool, protesting at the gates from 8.45am to 9.30am every Friday. 

In March, he travelled to the European Parliament to lobby politicians over climate change. Finlay, who was one of only three children from the UK to join pupils from countries across the world, said: “I want the people who make decisions over our lives to see this world is dying. I want them to reduce man’s carbon footprint as well as cut back on farming and plastic use.” 

In June, he travelled to Vancouver on an international scholarship to attend the prestigious Ocean Heroes Bootcamp. The three-day event trains young people to be global ambassadors for fighting plastic pollution. 

In his spare time, he also volunteers with local wildlife and marine conservation groups, and takes part in beach cleans. 

Fin’s mum Rachel says: “Finlay is so passionate about trying to persuade people to make a difference to the planet." 

Schoolgirls have looked after more than 500 hedgehogs after setting up their own ‘hogspital’ to care for local wildlife. 

Sophie and Kyra, both 13, were inspired to help at the age of nine, after hearing that UK hedgehog populations had fallen from 30 million in 1950 to 1.5 million today. 

With the support of their parents, Sophie and Kyra started the Facebook group Hedgehog Friendly Town, as part of a school project in the summer holidays. Kyra’s mum Helen said: “We couldn’t afford to go on holiday that year. Kyra said, ‘What am I going to write about when I go back to school next year?’ It started as that.” 

Now they have spaces in their sheds and back gardens where they take care of injured hedgehogs. They have also enlisted local vets to help with medical support. 

Sophie and Kyra also care for abandoned baby hedgehogs – hoglets – who need feeding frequently, requiring the girls to tend to them immediately after school, into the evening and again at 6am. 

They have given many of their patients funny names, including Bruce Quillis, Amy Spinehouse, David Hasselhog, Hoggy Willoughby, Dick Van Spike and Quilliam Shakespeare. 

This year the pair successfully lobbied housing developer Taylor Wimpey to remove netting from hedges. It was used to prevent birds nesting during building work, but the girls argued it would trap hibernating hedgehogs, and have a devastating impact on wildlife. 

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