Dakin Humane Society Announces 2023 Humane Award Winners

SPRINGFIELD — Dakin Humane Society honored four people, a group of students, a network of animal hospitals, and a K9 comfort dog at its 2023 Humane Awards, which were part of the organization’s Barks & Brews event on Sept. 10 at Fort Hill Brewery in Easthampton. Meg Talbert, executive director at Dakin, presided over the award ceremony.

The Humane Awards were originally created by Dakin in 2011 and are comprised of multiple community-based award categories for individuals making a positive difference in the lives of animals and people. The honorees typically represent all ages and walks of life and demonstrate their commitment and concern for animals through their life and work.

Jerry Marchand received the Richard & Nathalie Woodbury Philanthropy Award, which is bestowed to a leader in the community who displays a remarkable sense of stewardship in sharing time, talent, and resources to improve the lives of animals and people who love them. Marchand, a longtime Dakin foster caregiver and donor, recently took in his 600th Dakin cat, creating a new record for most pets fostered by a single volunteer. He is also a volunteer taxi driver for Dakin, transporting animals, food, and supplies around New England as needed.

The 2022-23 first-grade students at Milton Bradley School received the Youth Award, which honors a hero age 16 or younger who displays extraordinary care and compassion to make a difference in the lives of animals. The students held a donation drive for much-needed items at Dakin. They made videos for morning announcements, created flyers, and conducted an interview with Dakin to help collect donations.

Marina Bayeva received the Frances M. Wells Award, which recognizes an individual for notable contributions to the health and welfare of animals. Bayeva, a native Ukrainian, lives in Western Mass., and when Russia invaded Ukraine, she was told the animal shelters there were in desperate need of help. So she successfully networked with several to compile a list of their needs and set up a nonprofit, Help Animals Survive the War in Ukraine, which raised nearly $55,000 for shelters in her native Dnipro, and has assisted shelters in procuring grant funding.

Jessecah Gower received the Champion Award, which honors an individual who serves in the public or nonprofit sector who has faithfully made life better for tens of thousands of animals and people. Through her efforts as Animal Control officer and Animal Health inspector for West Springfield, she gives people the resources they need to keep animals in their homes, such as referring them to organizations that can provide assistance with vaccinations and spay/neuter surgery. She was also cited for her tireless efforts to reunite lost pets with their families.

K9 Frank and Greenfield Police Officer Matthew Llewelyn received the Distinguished Animal Award, which recognizes an exceptional animal (and human handler when applicable) whose extraordinary devotion to people has proved transformative or lifesaving in challenging or exceptional circumstances. K9 Frank and Llewelyn, his handler, received this award based on their efforts to de-escalate mental-health crises to which the Greenfield Police Department responds.

VCA Animal Hospitals, a national network of hometown animal hospitals, received the Corporate Leadership Award, which is presented to a business or its corporate foundation that demonstrates outstanding commitment to improve the lives of animals through employee giving, volunteerism, or partnership. VCA Charities is a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 that has raised more than $1 million to provide free veterinary services, medication, food, and financial support to more than 100 animal-welfare organizations across the country.