2005 NJVMA Animal Hall of Fame Inductees
Teddy is a Labrador retriever and Rebecca Megill’s service dog since 2002. Rebecca, who lives in Spring Lake Heights, was born with spina bifida and has been confined to a wheelchair all her life. With Teddy’s help, Rebecca graduated from Brookdale Community College in 2004. Teddy was at her side as she accepted her diploma and the two of them shared a standing ovation. By attending to many of Rebecca’s needs, Teddy has given her a degree of independence she had not experienced before. And his very presence bolsters Rebecca’s confidence. “ He is a constant companion, always there when I need him,” she said. “I am more outgoing now. People don’t stare anymore, instead they ask about Teddy, which breaks the ice.” Having a service dog by her side even gave Rebecca the confidence to get her driver’s license. Teddy was nominated by Dr. Marilyn Weber of Sea Girt Animal Hospital.
Some dogs might reduce their activity after losing a leg to cancer, but not Velvet, the 10-year-old black Labrador retriever belonging to Kathy Braza of Woodbridge. For five years Velvet has been visiting the New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home at Menlo Park as part of a busy therapy schedule that also included working with 9-11 families. After her leg was amputated last November Velvet made a rapid comeback, and now her visits to the disabled veterans are even more poignant. She is a special favorite with the veterans, who delight in grasping Velvet’s second leash and “walking” her through the facility in their wheelchairs. Velvet was nominated by Drs. Barry Adler and Gene Fink of Woodbridge Veterinary Group.
Pooh Bear is a very busy miniature poodle. He is a certified therapy dog with a large repertoire of tricks. With his owner, Vikki Babcock of Ringwood, he participates in dog safety education and canine care demonstrations. But it is as a household pet to Vikki and her family that Pooh Bear does his most important work. When 8-year-old Jimmy Babcock suffered a diabetic seizure while sleeping, it was Pooh Bear who alerted Vikki in time to summon emergency medical treatment that saved Jimmy from serious injury or death. Since then, Pooh Bear has learned to sense Jimmy’s blood sugar levels and is able to warn him when another seizure is threatening. Pooh Bear’s talent and devotion bring peace of mind to Jimmy and his entire family. Pooh Bear was nominated by Dr. E. Kurt Arnold of Ringwood Animal Hospital.
When Liz Bungo of Morris Plains got her Rottweiler, Katie, 12 years ago she had little idea what an impact the dog would make on her life. Seven years later Liz received a devastating diagnosis – breast cancer. Throughout months of treatment and recovery even the most supportive friends and family could not be there every minute. But Katie could. This previously active dog refused to leave Liz’s side for more than the few moments it took to go outside once or twice a day. When Liz could take walks, Katie slowed her pace to match. When Liz was too weak to carry even the mail, Katie learned to do that, too. To this day, Katie rarely takes her eyes off Liz. The bond between them is evident to all. Now, Liz is repaying Katie for that devotion. In the last year and a half Katie has survived surgery for a cancerous jawbone, chemotherapy; a fractured vertebra and pancreatitis. Through it all Liz has been there for Katie, as Katie was for her. Katie was nominated by Dr. Renee Al-Sarraf of Animal Emergency and Referral Associates in Fairfield.
The NJVF Award is given to an individual who works to improve the care and dignity of animals. No one could argue that Jonathan Rosenberg is not such an individual. When his beloved cat Tabby died, Jonathan reexamined his life and decided to make a change. He founded, built and is the Executive Director of Tabby’s Place in Ringoes, a cageless sanctuary for cats who have run out of options and are scheduled to be euthanized. Once accepted to Tabby’s Place, cats have a home for life, regardless of their health, behavior or other special needs. Spacious suites filled with cubbyholes, toys, blankets, quilts and other cat furniture connect to outdoor enclosures where the cats can enjoy fresh air. More than 200 cats that would otherwise been euthanized have been adopted from Tabby’s Place. Those who can’t find a home with a family, have one for life at Tabby’s Place. Jonathan Rosenberg was nominated by Dr. R. Wayne Randolph of Countryside Veterinary Hospital in Flemington.