Animal Hero Awards 2020 - A unique celebration of the bond between people and animals, recognising and celebrating the most inspiring examples of bravery, dedication and resilience in the animal world.
The Mirror's Animal Hero Awards are back, honouring the most inspiring, uplifting and breathtaking stories of heroism in the animal kingdom.
Winners could be a dog or cat who has battled back from appalling neglect, a caring animal who has transformed someone’s life, or simply a loyal companion who made lockdown bearable.
The Animal Hero Awards, in partnership with Webbox and our charity partner Battersea, also honour people who have dedicated their lives to making the world a better place for animals. In homes, animal shelters and communities all over Britain, amazing acts of compassion and courage are happening every day, and we are excited to celebrate them with the Animal Hero Awards 2020.
Animal collection officer whose specialist knowledge of exotic animals sees him travelling nationwide to assist with some hair-raising rescues.
Teenager with autism who shares his passion for wildlife and conservation through blogging, fundraising, giving talks and taking part in citizen science projects.
Founded Dogs on the Streets, a network of volunteers working with homeless dog owners to ensure the welfare of their animals.
For many homeless people, their pet dog is their closest companion, offering love, friendship and protection in a life that is difficult and lonely. Michelle started working with that community in 2012 after walking past a homeless man and his pet near her home in London.
She decided to give them a Christmas gift of food and essentials. After seeing the impact it had, she started to give up her free time to support other people in the same situation.
Then, in October 2016, she was asked to temporarily house a dog whose owner had been taken ill.
The experience inspired her to think of a way to bring together all the services she had been organising under one mobile roof. So, in March last year, she formed Dogs on the Streets (DOTS).
Michelle recruited volunteer vets, groomers and trainers, and they set up a makeshift tent at regular times and locations each week. Then in December, an anonymous donor gave them a custom-made mobile vet surgery to use.
DOTS now operates two weekly clinics in London. Homeless dog owners can take their pets for check-ups, vaccinations and treatments, along with grooming and training sessions to reduce dog-on-dog aggression. The charity also offers free leads, coats, beds, collars and food, and the mobile vet van allows the team to give emergency care 24 hours a day. Dogs supported by DOTS are given a tag with contact details so owners can call the team for help when they need it – even at 1am.
The scheme has expanded to other parts of the UK, including Dundee, Bournemouth, Milton Keynes and Oxford, and is set to grow further. Michelle has also been involved in successfully getting homeless people and their pets off the streets for good.
Michelle, 49, said: “I think DOTS takes a huge weight off their shoulders, which then enables them to focus on themselves a bit more, because their whole focus – even food – often goes to their dog first.”
Their groundbreaking work with rescue dogs has seen 12 of them become police sniffer dogs, including previous Animal Heroes award winner Stella.
Dr Mo, as his friends call him, trained as a vet at Kabul University but fled to Britain in 1996 after the Taliban came to power.
The regime did not recognise his profession and destroyed his university department. He saw his freedoms eroded and narrowly escaped with his life on several occasions, including when a rocket hit his flat.
Here in Britain, Dr Mo started volunteering for Mayhew Animal Home in London. He later became a member of staff and has devoted 15 years to improving animal welfare in the UK and abroad.
He has assisted in the rebuilding of the vet faculty at Kabul University. He has also helped Kabul Zoo not just recover from total destruction, but also become a well-maintained educational facility.
Dr Mo, 48, is now the country director for Mayhew Afghanistan. As part of the role he devised and implemented the first dog population survey in Kabul, with a view to developing a humane dog management programme.
He has negotiated an agreement to stop the culling of roaming dogs using poisonous strychnine, and travels to the country regularly to help equip and train student vets.
In August last year, Dr Mo started the first mass canine rabies vaccination programme in Kabul, with 12,000 dogs treated so far. The area only had a 1% vaccination rate before but is now on course to eradicate the disease.
The dad-of-three is a role model for young Afghans, inspiring them to care about animal welfare. He has also worked in India, refurbishing field clinics, educating vets about hygiene practices and working on mass vaccination programmes. Mayhew Chief Executive Caroline Yates said: “I, and everyone at The Mayhew, are incredibly proud of Dr Mohammadzai and what he has achieved. He is determined to improve animal welfare and veterinary standards in Afghanistan and implement a rabies prevention programme that will help the Afghan people and communities.”
Rescues and rehabilitates thousands of animals and birds at Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue, and founded the Save Me Trust with Dr Brian May.
TV presenter, campaigner, writer and conservationist who has instilled a love of animals and nature in millions of children and young people.