Tuesday, May 4, 2021

2021 Companion Animal Rescue Awards - now open for entry!

Companion Animal Rescue Awards
(c) Jo Lyons Photography 2021.

Coronavirus isolation led to a surge in pet adoptions over the past year, saving thousands of animal lives. The Companion Animal Rescue Awards returns for its fourth year to celebrate and inspire rescue groups and animal shelters who have made an impact and continue their efforts in saving companion animals.


The Rescue Awards is Australia’s first and only national awards program for hard working rescues, shelters, foster carers and passionate pet adopters. The program is managed by Pets4Life, an independent education resource for cat and dog guardians and those thinking of getting a pet.


At a celebration with guests from Greyhound Rescue, 2020 Outstanding Rescue Group winner, the Rescue Awards welcomed Pet Insurance Australia as the new Platinum Rescue Hero and Naming Partner. The program is now called the ‘Pet Insurance Australia Companion Animal Rescue Awards 2021’.

(c) Caroline Zambrano, Pet Journo.  

“The Rescue Awards is absolutely delighted to welcome Pet Insurance Australia as our new Naming Partner,” said Cathy Beer, pet adoption advocate and founder of the Rescue Awards and Pets4Life.


“Pet Insurance Australia is one of our wonderful founding Supporters, right from the start in 2018. Pet insurance is critical to ensure pets receive top quality veterinary treatment and care. This fine Australian family-owned business brings an international reputation for excellence and a caring approach to their customers seeking pet insurance.”


The mission of the Rescue Awards is to celebrate and acknowledge achievements in the rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of companion animals in Australia. It is the platform to showcase excellence and innovation, thereby raising the standards of rescue groups and animals shelters nation-wide.

(c) Jo Lyons photography, 2021.

“The Rescue Awards shines the spotlight on thousands of heart-warming stories from pet adopters and foster carers about how their adopted/foster pet has transformed and changed lives,” said Cathy.


Every year, approximately 190,000 pets remain unclaimed in Australia’s pounds and shelters, and thousands of volunteers support over 1,000 rescue groups and animal shelters across Australia¹. The Rescue Awards recognises the dedication of staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to help rescue pets find homes.


“Our past winners and finalists say the recognition by the Rescue Awards gives their staff and volunteers the motivation to ‘keep calm and carry on’ re-homing surrendered and abandoned pets every day in a challenging environment,” said Cathy.


In 2021, the Pet Insurance Australia Companion Animal Rescue Awards is building on the success of 2020 when over 1,000 entries were received.


Returning as the Rescue Awards Ambassador is Lara Shannon, Certified Dog Trainer, Animal Welfare Advocate, author of ‘Eat, Play Love your Dog’, Host of Channel 10’s Pooches at Play and features in Channel 9s The Pet Rescuers. Lara shares her enthusiasm for the Rescue Awards in her video message.


Pet Insurance Australia Spokesperson Nadia Crighton said, “Pet Insurance Australia is thrilled to be the Platinum Rescue Hero and Naming Partner for the Pet Insurance Australia Companion Animal Rescue Awards for 2021.”


Ali Osmani, Pet Insurance Australia CEO, said, "After supporting these important awards for the past four years, it's a great honour to continue our support in a larger capacity. We encourage Australian rescues and shelters who work tirelessly to rehome, rehabilitate and foster pets of all shapes and sizes to enter and get the recognition they deserve."


Cathy also revealed this year’s Judges, Categories, Supporters and Prizes, and thanks animal lovers across the country for helping to make a difference by adopting or fostering a pet.


Rescue Award Categories

The Rescue Awards 2021 has 10 Categories with one winner for each category.


Award categories 1 8 are for industry. Category 9, the People’s Rescue Story’ is for Aussie pet guardians who have adopted a pet and category 10 is the Foster Carer Story’ for foster carers of companion animals waiting for their forever home.





1.        Outstanding Rescue Group

2.        Outstanding New Rescue Group

3.        Outstanding Animal Shelter

4.        Outstanding Council Animal Shelter

5.        Innovation in Companion Animal Welfare and Management

6.        Community Education and Outreach Program

7.        Volunteer of the Year

8.        Refuel Creative Digital Marketing

9.        People’s Rescue Story

10.    Foster Carer Story

A note on my involvement

What is my role? I have volunteered as a judge for the Companion Animal Rescue Awards since their inception.

What does it involve? the judging is extremely rigorous. The applications are extensive – designed to enable those in Companion Animal Rescue to be recognised for their work they do, but also to ensure they are meeting high standards. If I have a conflict of interest with a particular individual or organisation, I don’t assess that application. There are several rounds of judging to ensure the panel is comfortable and confident with the decision. Category winners can be assured that they have really achieved recognition.

Why am I doing this? Here and in many parts of the world we continue to have a surplus of companion animals – but this is reducing. The field of companion animal rescue has evolved so much in the last decade, and there are individuals and organisations innovating to reduce length of stay in shelters, maximise rehoming rates and maximise animal welfare. To ensure this improvement continues, we need to make sure that those people doing the RIGHT thing are recognised, and that effective innovations can be shared.

Personally, I am also impressed that the Companion Animal Rescue Awards recognise not just animal welfare, but the welfare of those working in this field – one singled out for high rates of moral stress and burnout in published literature. We need to make sure that systems are sustainable, and that individuals and organisations recognised share compassion not just with animals, but also the teams who look after them.

What next? I encourage you to enter, but don’t wait until the last minute. The application process is comprehensive. You will need to think about the responses, gather the relevant information, and spend a bit of time. You might realise there is an area you hadn’t thought about before – that’s part of the benefit of entering these awards.