Third Annual Animal Compassion Awards

Each year, San Diego Humane Society recognizes the extraordinary individuals and businesses that have gone the extra mile to ease the suffering of animals in need.

Meet the 2016 winners of the Animal Compassion Awards.


Dave Roberts  |  Toni Atkins  |  Brian Maienschein

full-heroHaving a passion for animals is one thing. Actively working to protect and prioritize them is something on another level, as it requires hard work, dogged research, and in some cases, political will. Assembly members Brian Maienschein and Toni Atkins, and County Supervisor Dave Roberts, deserve recognition for their tireless work to make the world safer for animals.

Maienschein has spearheaded efforts to end puppy mills by requiring transparency in how puppies are imported into California, and worked to eliminate the mandate to euthanize abandoned animals. He also drafted a bill that enables first responders to better assist animal victims during natural disasters, when shelters often become overcrowded.

Atkins has shown her support for animal welfare by creating a bill that strengthened the ban on importing and selling ivory and rhino horns or products in California. The bill passed last fall, closing loopholes that had allowed the illegal trade to continue. Atkins and Maienschein have also shown their shared passion for animals through fundraising and adoption drives.

Roberts has been a strong champion of animal welfare. Since taking office in 2013, he has directed resources to animal welfare groups and the county’s Department of Animal Services. He also works to protect the natural habitats and ecosystems of local wild and marine life.

San Diegans are lucky to have three local leaders who’ve achieved such great things for animal welfare in the past year.


Edwin Rivers

EdwinEdwin Rivers woke often during the night to secure the perimeter of his house. He would check that every window and door was locked before being able to fall asleep again, only to awaken every two hours with the same instinct. It was all symptomatic of the post-traumatic stress disorder Rivers was diagnosed with after serving in Operation Desert Storm from 1990-91.

To ease his PTSD, the US Army combat veteran was prescribed therapy and several medications, but nothing changed his life for the better more than a happy nine-month old shepherd mix puppy named Myles. When one of the players on Rivers’ softball team could no longer care for Myles, Rivers took him in. The pup quickly took to sleeping right next to him, making restful nights something he could finally count on. 

In 2015, Rivers feared he might lose it all again. Myles broke his femur in a fall and needed emergency surgery, but Rivers couldn’t afford it on his fixed income. Without surgery, euthanasia was the recommended alternative.

“I felt totally helpless,” he says. “I couldn’t bear the thought of putting a puppy to sleep.”

After exhausting all other possibilities, Rivers reached out to the Foundation for Animal Care and Education (FACE), a San Diego nonprofit that provides grants for emergency veterinary care—and they were able to fund the surgery.

“Words cannot express how appreciative we are for the help,” Rivers says. “I do not know what I would have done without the FACE Foundation.”

With help from his community, Rivers was able to save Myles, just as Myles had saved him. The pup has since fully recovered from his surgery, and Rivers has begun volunteering for the FACE Foundation, speaking about how his new best friend helped him when he needed it most.

To learn more about the FACE Foundation, visit


Readers voted on top local businesses and destinations that promote and support pet-friendly environments.
Best Pet-Friendly Restaurant
Cat Café-CD-100915
The Cat Café

The Cat Café
Feline fanatics have gone crazy for Tony Wang’s East Village coffee shop, the first café in Southern California where guests can play with adoptable cats from San Diego Humane Society while enjoying a latte. The Cat Café helped more than 100 cats find homes within its first year of business.

Best Pet-Friendly Hotel

Hotel Indigo
A hotel that’s truly gone to the dogs (in a good way!). All rooms at this Gaslamp hotel are pet-friendly and come with doggy bowls, treats, beds and “Yappy Hours.” For locals as well as guests, the hotel’s rooftop bar hosts a monthly Canine Cocktails event.

Best Groomer

Pet Palace  
The owner of this North Park grooming boutique often mails cards to first-time customers, thanking them for their business. Aside from shampoos, haircuts, and “pawdicures,” there are plenty of treats and toys for dogs and cats.

South Bark Dog Wash
South Bark Dog Wash
Best Pet Sitter

Kate Glenn takes care of clients’ pets as though they are family. Dog and cat owners are assured that their pet is loved and cared for while they’re out of town, and also receive a personalized “while you were away” daily diary about their pet when they return.

Best Dog Wash  

South Bark
This boutique is more like a spa for pets: It pioneered the idea of facial treatments for dogs and cats, and their signature blueberry facial is included with each wash. It has become such a popular pet-grooming product that it’s now bottled and sold in retail shops.

Best Dog Day Care
Canine to Five
Canine to Five

Canine to Five
The staff can help shy dogs and puppies socialize and overcome other behavioral issues through its classes and day care programs, like the swimming lessons at the on site pool. Not all breeds are born strong swimmers; Canine to Five can help most dogs learn to love the water.

Best Pet Boutique

Natural Instincts Healthy Pet Center
A one-stop shop in Alpine for natural pet foods, treats, grooming, and obedience classes.

Bark Avenue Resort and Kamp
Bark Avenue Resort and Kamp
Best Boarding Kennel

Bark Avenue Resort and Kamp
Bark Avenue is a pet hotel right next to Mission Animal & Bird Hospital in Oceanside that has five-star accommodations. Dogs get suites with raised beds and skylights, an expansive dog park, and even weekend movie nights. Cats are put up in kitty condos with a “bird’s-eye” window and climbing wall.

Best Dog Beach

Del Mar Dog Beach
Dogs are welcome year-round on this stretch of sand north
of 29th Street for playing
fetch or frolicking in the sea. There are facilities for rinsing off sandy paws and lots of street parking. 

Best Dog Park 

Nate’s Point
This landmark dog park by the Cabrillo Bridge in Balboa Park recently got a major upgrade with new trees, more shade, and new benches. The 24-hour off-leash park is one of the most popular in San Diego.


Add Comment