Not all heroes have capes — or even opposable thumbs.
Four valiant animals were chosen by the ASPCA for the annual Humane Awards, including a stereotype-busting police pit bull, a cat who snaps his owner out of seizures, a support dog who brings comfort after national tragedies and a horse who helps calm at-risk youth and trauma victims.
The critters will be honored Thursday at Cipriani 42nd Street, along with former Sen. Bob Dole and three others for their commitment to helping animals.
Meet the brave beasts and their selfless endeavors.
Public Service Award: Kiah
Not only is this pooch the first pit bull to sniff out criminals for a New York Police Department, she’s also shattering violent breed stereotypes.
The 3-year-old was adopted by Officer Justin Bruzgul in 2015 and joined the Poughkeepsie Police Department as a narcotics and tracking dog.
“She’s phenomenal at what she does,” said Bruzgul, 39.
Kiah was found in a San Antonio parking lot and enrolled in a facility called Universal K9 “to break that stereotype that pit bulls aren’t a valued member of our community,” said Stacey Coleman, the program’s executive director.
Cat of the Year: Blake
This feline has spared his owner more than nine lives.
The black kitty from Fort Worth, Texas, saves his owner, Glen Schallman, each day from deadly seizures.
“He’s just incredibly intuitive,” said Schallman, 57, of his 2-year-old cat. “He knows when I need help.”
Schallman suffers from a rare brain illness that can cause as many as 10 seizures a day. Blake, who was rescued from a hoarder, will claw Schallman’s toes or nip at his fingers, immediately snapping him out of the seizure.
Horse of the Year: Sutter
This stallion doesn’t horse around about healing.
The 30-year-old horse helps at-risk youth and victims of trauma rebuild their ability to trust by establishing a bond through body language.
Sutter, captured from the wild in Nevada when he was 2, was whipped and abused, left so afraid of humans he would slam into walls. But through rescuer
Neda DeMayo’s Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary, Sutter can now help others.
“People have had their lives turned around because of horses like Sutter,” said DeMayo.
Dog of the Year: Ruthie
Where there’s tragedy, there’s Ruthie.
The 5-year-old emotional-support dog from Northbrook, Ill., has lent a helping paw in the aftermath of national crises including the Orlando nightclub shooting, the Boston Marathon bombing and the Dallas sniper attack that left five police officers dead.
“She has this innate sense about her and can tell when someone has anxiety or is suffering emotionally,” said Rich Martin, 64, one of Ruthie’s handlers.
In Orlando, the golden retriever comforted a survivor who had lost several friends. “He just held her in his lap and loved on her,” said Martin.
More about Sutter:
Formerly wild stallion named ‘Horse of the Year’, Nov. 4, 2016 (video)
Horse of the Year Sutter featured in news report, Oct. 22, 2016 (video)
RTF resident Sutter named ASPCA Horse of the Year, Oct. 19, 2016