Yaksha - Yaksha is a multi-talented German Shepherd who is the K-9 partner of Union County Sheriff’s Officer Kevin Buckley. During his career with Kevin, Yaksha has successfully tracked and located lost children and adults, helped apprehend fleeing felons, and located drugs, cash and weapons. Yaksha and Kevin are a team in more ways that one. When Yaksha suddenly became paralyzed, Kevin rushed him to Garden State Veterinary Specialists, where a difficult back operation repaired two herniated discs, but left Yaksha in need of serious physical therapy if he was to regain the ability to walk. Kevin spent every day of the next three months, carrying his partner when needed, taking him for walks with a sling to support his weight, and even finding a therapy pool at a horse farm where Yaksha could swim. Kevin and Yaksha’s combined dedication paid off. Three months to the day from when he suffered his injury, Yaksha was re-certified as a police service dog. Yaksha was nominated by Dr. Thomas Scavelli of Garden State Veterinary Specialists.
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Rocky – Rocky is a three-toed box turtle whose poor health had jeopardized his position at a local zoo. He was rescued by Karen and Charlie Buckley of Cape May Court House. As they gradually nursed him back to health, the Buckley’s became aware of his unusually outgoing personality and decided to make him the star of a children’s environmental education program they perform at schools, museums and state parks. In the words of his nominating veterinarian, Dr. Eric Banks of Vineland, “Rocky is the most outgoing reptile I have seen in 20 years of practice.”
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Tomba - Tomba is the companion and assistance dog of Morgan Earle, a 16-year-old Chatham student whose neurological disorder has left her prone to unpredictable seizures and with the use of only one arm. Tomba, a Golden Retriever- Labrador Retriever mix was specially bred by Canine Companions for Independence for intelligence, patience and longevity. As Morgan’s assistance dog he responds to more than 60 commands and performs such diverse services as opening and closing doors, picking up dropped items, and helping her through seizures. As her constant companion Tomba has acted as an icebreaker in social situations and greatly improved Morgan’s outlook on life. Tomba was nominated by Dr. Julia Johnson of Somerset Hill Vet Service, Bernardsville.
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Cassie – Marie Camporeale, of Lyndhurst, had been successfully treated for depression, but was still subject to crippling panic attacks when Cassie, a German Shepherd, came into her life. Although reluctant to leave her house, Marie had errands to run, and she soon found that Cassie’s delighted and non-judgmental company on those car rides made it easier for her to venture farther afield. “With Cassie I always felt grounded and safe,” she said. With Cassie’s support Marie eventually was able to reclaim her place in the world. Now she and Cassie regularly visit hospitals, nursing homes and libraries, where Cassie comforts patients and helps children learn to read by listening patiently and non-judgmentally as they build their reading skills. Cassie was nominated by Dr. Marguerite Hoey of Arlington Dog and Cat Hospital, Kearny.
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New Jersey Veterinary Foundation Award:
Mylestone Equine Rescue - What happens to horses when their owners can or will no longer care for them? If they are lucky, they come to live with Susankelly Thompson at Mylestone Equine Rescue, a horse farm nestled in the rolling hills outside Phillipsburg. Typical is the story of Linus, a palomino mini-stallion who, along with two other minis had been tied up in tiny stalls with only minimal food and water for a year and a half when they were found. Linus’s companions were healthy enough to be gelded and were adopted. Linus, elderly and with a heart murmur, went to live at Mylestone, where as many as 28 horses at a time have found a loving home. Despite his small stature and medical problems, Linus is a friendly, outgoing little horse that has become Mylestone’s mascot, and has helped raise much-needed funds for the non-profit operation. Mylestone was nominated by Dr. Mary Beth Hamorski of Califon Animal Hospital.
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