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Kind Kids Nationally Recognized During American Humane Association's "Be Kind to Animals Week[R]".

Top Kids Awarded $1,000 Prize

DENVER -- Six kind kids from across the nation who are devoted to helping animals now have one more thing in common: they are all winners in the American Humane Association's Be Kind to Animals[TM] Kid Contest. Congratulations are in order for grand-prize winners Annie Lee Vankleeck of Shokan, N.Y., and Abby Jungers of St. Peters, Mo., and runners-up Monica Plumb of Powhatan, Va., Rylie Sullivan of Herndon, Va., Shelley Johnson of Lake Stevens, Wash., and Casey Mills of Mt. Airy, Md.

These budding "humane-itarians" have gone above and beyond to help animals and have dedicated much of their free time to helping animals in any way they can. From volunteering at animal shelters to collecting blankets, these youngsters have proven they are role models in humanity.

"These children are examples of the power of the human-animal bond and demonstrate values that help create a more humane and caring society," said Marie Belew Wheatley, president and CEO of American Humane. "We are proud to recognize their accomplishments with a prize and we hope that they will be viewed as role models for other children and adults about the importance of treating animals with compassion and respect."

Be Kind to Animals Week is being observed May 3-9 this year. First observed in 1915, it is the oldest event in the nation to celebrate the companionship, friendship and love that animals bring into people's lives. Animal shelters throughout the country hold special events during this week to raise awareness about being kind to animals and to teach people about the benefits of the human-animal bond. Be Kind to Animals Week is a great time to promote the wonderful work being done by the nation's animal welfare organizations and to encourage everyone to get involved to make a difference for animals.

Here's a brief look at the grand-prize winners:

Grand-Prize Winner (ages 6 to 12) Annie Lee Vankleeck, age 6, Shokan, N.Y., daughter of Sharon McInerney and Ralph Vankleeck Wanting to do something to help animals, Annie and her family went online to look at their local shelters' websites. After finding out that Out of the Pits, a nonprofit pit bull rescue in Albany, needed gently used blankets and towels, Annie made it her mission to fulfill that need. Annie applied for a spot at the town's annual Olive Day festival, and sat there all day, collecting used blankets and towels. She went to yard sales and persuaded people to donate their blankets, or she bought them. She collected blankets and towels at school. And she is still going strong. For her upcoming 7th birthday party, she is asking her guests to forego bringing her gifts, and bring towels and blankets for "the doggies" instead.

Grand-Prize Winner (ages 13 to 17) Abby Jungers, age 13, St. Peters, Mo., daughter of Michelle Jungers Abby has clocked over 700 volunteer hours at the St. Charles Humane Society. Abby is there every day and can hardly be pulled away. At the shelter, Abby can and will jump in anywhere. She cleans kennels, walks dogs, feeds and waters animals, sets up beds and helps with heartworm tests. She goes to new volunteer orientations and helps train the new recruits. She even fills in for staff members when they call in sick. And outside of the shelter, she goes to shelter events and fundraisers, distributes fliers about the shelter and participates in mobile adoptions. Abby will take on even the least desirable tasks at the shelter, all in the name of helping animals.

Get Ready for Next Year's Be Kind to Animals Week([R]), May 2-8, 2010!

The 2010 Be Kind to Animals Kid Contest will begin accepting nominations in March 2010, so keep your eyes open for kind kids in your community who should receive a prize for their accomplishments! American Humane will announce the winners during Be Kind to Animals Week in early May 2010.

For more information on Be Kind to Animals Week and for tips on what you can do to show kindness to animals, go to www.americanhumane.org/bkaw.

About American Humane

Founded in 1877, the American Humane Association is the only national organization dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Through a network of child and animal protection agencies and individuals, American Humane develops policies, legislation, curricula and training programs to protect children and animals from abuse, neglect and exploitation. The nonprofit organization, headquartered in Denver, raises awareness about The Link([R]) between violence to people and violence to animals, as well as the benefits derived from the human-animal bond. American Humane's regional office in Los Angeles is the exclusive authority behind the "No Animals Were Harmed"([R]) end-credit disclaimer on film and TV productions, and American Humane's office in Washington, D.C., is an advocate for child and animal protection at the federal and state levels. The American Humane([R]) Certified farm animal program is the nation's original independent certification and labeling program for humanely raised food (www.thehumanetouch.org). American Humane meets the strong, comprehensive standards of the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, has been awarded the Independent Charities of America's "Best in America" Seal of Approval, and has met the stringent standards for financial efficiency and accountability required by the American Institute of Philanthropy to qualify as a Top-Rated Charity. Visit www.americanhumane.org to learn more.

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Date:May 4, 2009
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