2011 TVMF Texas Animal Hall of Fame Inductees

Nov 28, 2011, 11:43 ET from Texas Veterinary Medical Association

AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Texas Animal Hall of Fame was established by the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation (TVMF) to celebrate the human-animal bond and give veterinarians a chance to recognize outstanding patients. TVMF is proud to announce the 2011 Texas Animal Hall of Fame Inductees. This year, TVMF received 10 nominations for three different categories: hero, professional and companion. It was not an easy task for the Foundation Trustees to pick just one winner for each category as all of the submissions had amazing stories.

Justice, Companion Category Winner:
Justice, a yellow Labrador who was donated to Patriot PAWS Service Dogs, is the 2011 winner in the Companion category, which recognizes those who provide a special benefit to a community or human companion. Brian Field, a disabled veteran, lost both his legs in 2007 while serving in Iraq. A single father of two teenagers, Brian had problems performing many routine activities and asked Patriot PAWS for assistance. And that is how Justice and Brian met. 

Justice, whose training nickname was "Social Butterfly," has done so much to improve Brian's life and the lives of Brian's children. Besides the personal impact on their home life, such as picking up dropped items, helping with household chores and helping Brian navigate the world on two prosthetic legs, Justice has also had an unforeseen social impact. Society teaches us not to stare at the disabled and the children were having a difficult time dealing with the public's reaction to their father. Justice's friendly face and obvious devotion to Brian became the icebreaker that changed Brian from a disabled person that people politely tried not to stare at, to one with a really cool dog that everyone wanted to meet. Justice's presence has brought the entire family closer together.

Along with restoring independence and providing companionship, Justice has also given Brian peace of mind. When his sleep is plagued with nightmares, Justice gently nudges Brian to wake up. Her purpose in life has become to provide him with anything within her power that Brian might need and to make him feel strong and in control, a feeling he lost for a time. Nothing can make Brian whole again, but having Justice has eased his feelings of loss and restored so much of what was lost four years ago, far away in the sands of Iraq.

Kira, Hero Category Winner:
At the very young age of only 14 months, baby girl Riley has made a loyal friend she can count on for the rest of her childhood. Kira, a two-year-old female Husky, is only a few months older than Riley and has already shown a remarkable devotion to her. She is TVMF's 2011 winner in the Hero category, which recognizes an animal that has performed an incredible act of bravery or saved a human life.

On a scorching August afternoon, Riley's mom chose to keep the family inside to play in the cool air conditioning. Somehow a copperhead managed to get into the house at the very spot where Riley was playing. Before it could strike, Kira jumped in between the snake and Riley, resulting in a bite on her muzzle. Animal Control was able to find and remove the snake from Riley and Kira's home and the family arrived to the veterinarian within 30 minutes of the bite, as Kira's muzzle was rapidly swelling. Even though Kira must have been in pain, while in the exam room she seemed to check on Riley by licking her face whenever she could.

Happily, Kira fully recovered. Thanks to Kira's bravery, Riley's dad, who recently returned from a deployment in Afghanistan, is able to enjoy playing with his baby girl. Riley and Kira remain the best of friends.

Mr. Bojangles Professional Category Winner:
David and Sue Daniel, members of the Search One Rescue Team (SORT), were looking for another bloodhound to add to their family and search and rescue team. They came across a funny looking 14-month-old bloodhound that had a head so large he resembled a bobble head toy. Eventually his body caught up to his head and Mr. Bojangles has been a dependable resource of SORT since 2001. He is TVMF's 2011 Professional category winner, which recognizes remarkable, specially trained assistance animals.

Mr. Bojangles, the crime-solving sleuth, has helped save many lives and provided police with critical information to assist in solving crimes. In one such case, a gentleman with Alzheimer's drove away from his home in Arlington and went missing. Missing for two days, his truck was found on the highway nearly 100 miles from his home. After a search conducted by the police and helicopter didn't find the man, SORT was called. Mr. Bojangles was presented an article of the missing man's clothes to help track down his scent. In less than 10 minutes, Mr. Bojangles found the man alive, though disoriented, under a culvert by the highway.

One other notable case Mr. Bojangles assisted in was a murder investigation of a woman who had been found stabbed in the middle of her street. A neighbor gave information to the detective that he heard someone go over his fence about the time of the murder.  Armed with this information, Mr. Bojangles was taken to the fence and smelled the jacket of the woman that the murderer was thought to have grabbed on to. Picking up the scent, Mr. Bojangles trailed down alleys and streets until his trail ended at the culprit's house. He is currently serving life without parole.

Mr. Bojangles continues working to this day. When the phone rings, he is the first one to load up and hit the trails!

Honorable Mentions:
A huge thank you to all of our TVMA members who submitted a nomination for this year's Texas Animal Hall of Fame. TVMF would like to recognize the remaining nominations as well:

Lilly, a self-trained service dog that provided daily care and companionship to her wheelchair-bound owner.

Eli, a cat that teaches feline tolerance to service dogs trained by Patriot PAWS.

Oreo, a half Mastiff, half English Bulldog that assisted his owner to safety after the owner severely broke her leg.

Strawberry, a sassy Roan Mare that, after 33 years, continues to patiently assist students of the Veterinary Technology Program at Cedar Valley College.

Dr. Danny, the remarkable sensitive cat with unsurpassed compassion for humans residing at Arlington Animal Hospital.

Larry, the service dog that has not only been his owner's faithful companion, but also his eyes to the world.

Jezebel, a larger than life spirited cattle dog, who herded an angry bull that had trapped his owner against a fence with no route of escape.

About TVMF
The Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation was established in 1978 as a charitable and philanthropic organization. The Foundation is dedicated to ensuring the health and welfare of animals in Texas and celebrating the human-animal bond through education, public relations, research, fundraising and the development of people in the field of veterinary medicine. See more at tvmf.org.

Contact: Leah Ann Tibbitts
Director, Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation
8104 Exchange Drive
Austin, Texas 78754
Email: ltibbitts@tvma.org
Phone: 512/452-4224
Fax: 512/452-6633

SOURCE Texas Veterinary Medical Association