The Arizona Pet Project Celebrates Local Animal Heroes at 15th Annual HERO Awards

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Not all heroes stand on two legs. The Arizona Pet Project, formerly known as Friends of Animal Care & Control, is celebrating its 15th annual HERO Awards on March 10, 2018. The highly-anticipated event brings together more than 450 of the Valley’s most passionate animal lovers for a night of celebration and fundraising.

Presented by Lulu’s Fund, The Arizona Pet Project will honor five animal heroes who have demonstrated incredible courage while overcoming challenges and proving their will to live. The nonprofit will also be honoring local radio host Johnjay Van Es and his family for their unparalleled dedication to animal welfare.

For its 15th annual gala, The Arizona Pet Project welcomed honorary chair Jackson Galaxy. Galaxy is a prominent cat behaviorist, published author and host of Animal Planet’s hit show “My Cat From Hell.” In addition, owner of Tyler Allen Law Firm and board member of People Save Pets Lindsay Benjamin serves as event chair. The event will be hosted on Saturday, March 10, 2018 at 6 p.m. at the Omni Montelucia Resort in Paradise Valley.

The 2018 HERO Award winners are:

Animal Hero: Cuffie – An adopted cat who saved a life by awakening the parents of a little boy who was plummeting toward a diabetic coma in the middle of the night. Cuffie is not only a beloved family cat, but a medical miracle.


Animal Survivor: BB Bear – Found beaten and broken, this tiny, white puppy fought for his life and quickly became a social media sensation. As BB Bear courageously regained his strength, he had people all over the world falling in love with him resulting in more than 200 adoption applications.


Loyal Companion: Stella the Pitbull – This energetic and loving Pit Bull brought joy back into the lives of a family affected by cancer and depression – and ultimately saved a daughter on the brink of suicide. Through a challenging time, Stella provided comfort and happiness for a family in need.


Service to the Community: Nana – Found stranded in the desert, this adorable and laidback dog now provides support to individuals all over the state as a therapy dog. Not only does Nana provide comfort and assistance to those in need, but she is a true testament to the benefits of adopting a shelter dog.


Over the Rainbow Bridge: Fozzie– As the nation’s first full time crisis response canine, the Scottsdale Police Department’s K9 officer, Fozzie, provided a healing paw during times of crisis.  This special canine leaves behind a legacy of providing love and support to humans, including 911 operators and First Responders, in their time of need and vulnerability.

Human Hero: The Van Es family – Johnjay Van Es, a popular radio host, along with his dedicated family created #lovepup to foster homeless pets and find them forever homes. In addition, Johnjay uses his national platform to promote adoption to millions of listeners and social media followers. 

To purchase a sponsorship with the 15th Annual Hero Awards, please contact Leanna Taylor at 602-909-5291. To purchase individual tickets to attend the 15th Annual Hero Awards, please visit The Arizona Pet Project website here.

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