As we look toward a new year full of promise and hope for animals and people, we must also remember those we lost in 2022 who helped further American Humane’s “First To Serve” mission. While these animal lovers may no longer be with us physically, their spirit and generosity live on through their dedicated support of animals all across the globe.
Betty White served as one of the most effective and passionate animal advocates that American Humane has ever seen for almost 100 years. We are proud to say that Betty remains the longest-serving supporter in the organization’s illustrious history.
The affable actress with a soft spot for animals volunteered as a member of American Humane’s board of directors, supported the organization’s “No Animals Were Harmed®” program protecting animals in film and television, lent her services to fundraising activities, acted as a judge and presenter for the nationally televised American Humane Hero Dog Awards, and served as the chair of its now 106-year-old nationwide “Be Kind to Animals Week®”—the most successful humane education campaign and the oldest commemorative week in U.S. history.
For all of her outstanding efforts, Betty received American Humane’s National Humanitarian Medal, our highest honor. Even in her passing, Betty’s memory helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for animals through the #BettyWhiteChallenge. She championed the cause of millions of furred, finned and feathered friends around the world and never missed an opportunity to help animals in need.
Iconic country music legend Naomi Judd served on the board of American Humane for nearly a decade and was enthusiastically active in the organization’s veteran efforts. Naomi volunteered to help both reunite retired military working dogs with their former handlers and to help pair veterans with highly skilled service dogs through American Humane’s Pups4Patriots program.
She also fought valiantly to include language in the 2016 Defense Authorization Act that ultimately led to ensuring our brave military working dogs are brought back home to U.S. soil after retirement. Thanks to her efforts, former MWD handlers have the first right to adopt their battle buddies to help ensure a peaceful retirement for these often-unrecognized heroes. Naomi’s loving spirit and deep appreciation for our nation’s veterans lives on in these programs and their mission.
Dr. Bernie Rollin
Dr. Rollin is credited with bringing extraordinary change to the animal welfare industry. He taught the first-ever course on veterinary medical ethics and profoundly altered the way veterinarians are taught and how they practice. Dr. Rollin co-wrote the 1982 federal laws that enforce the humane treatment of animals in research and, as a result, was described as the person “who alleviated more animal pain than anyone in history.”
Dr. Rollin had a special relationship with American Humane and served on many advisory committees for our organization’s programs. His brilliant work helped make a significant, meaningful difference for millions of animals over the years.
As an animal trainer who began his work in the film industry in the 1960s, Dennis Grisco helped keep our feathered and furred best friends safe on movie sets for more than half a century. From Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Dennis was a magnificent trainer committed to the animal actors who enhance our favorite movie and television shows.
Dennis worked with American Humane representatives throughout the years and was always a kind and passionate soul to them and the animals they helped protect on set. He was also a master falconer and contributed both great knowledge and compassion to the sport of falconry. His work will live on in the many movies and TV shows he helped bring to life for so many years.
There are countless others we lost this year who helped us protect animals across the globe, and we thank them all for their courage and compassion. American Humane is beyond appreciative to have known these inimitable champions of animal welfare.
If you’d like to donate in honor of these special heroes, click here.