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Congratulations to Humane Society of Independence County on winning the new Defender in the Animal Welfare category and congratulations to all our finalists for entering. As well as watching the winning submission, please visit the websites of our winners and finalists and support their causes. Missed the live stream announcement? Watch it now and see all the nonprofits that won the new Defender.


For more than 57 years, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida has been a leading environmental advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the water, land, wildlife and future of our five-county area. The Conservancy uses the synergy of four teams to meet this mission: Science and Research, Policy and Advocacy, Environmental Education, and Wildlife Rehabilitation. Providing medical care to injured wildlife has been a priority of the Conservancy since 1979. The wildlife rehabilitation team provides supportive care with the goal of releasing as many “patients” as possible back to their natural habitats.


The mission of the Humane Society of Independence County is to rescue and provide a safe shelter for abandoned, abused, homeless and unwanted dogs and cats within the county and find secure, loving, stable homes for them. A community goal is to reduce the unwanted pet population by encouraging the spaying/neutering of all dogs and cats through education and awareness. We are a nonprofit, no-kill shelter that serves the residents of Independence County, local law enforcement, local businesses and other animal welfare advocates. Our policy is to accept all dogs and cats regardless of health or behavioral issues.


Established in 2007 and located in Napa Valley, our mission is to rescue and provide sanctuary for abused and neglected horses in Napa, surrounding counties, and throughout Northern California. Sunrise relies solely on the personal vehicles of its hardworking staff and volunteers, as the organization has no vehicles of its own. Often, this entails our Horse in Need committee driving in excess of six hours round trip to evaluate a horse in need, who is often found to be suffering due to neglect, starvation, or lack of medical care. Going above and beyond, Sunrise counts on its staff and trained volunteers for search and rescue efforts for those horses who find themselves caught in the horrific California wildfires each year, surrounded by fire and smoke, with no means of escape.


Since 2007, West Place Animal Sanctuary has provided lifesaving care, love and a permanent home to farm animals rescued from cases of abuse, neglect, and cruelty. We are a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center that assists sick, injured and orphaned animals, and releases healthy wildlife back into its natural habitats. As the only organization of its kind in Rhode Island, West Place is an official response partner of the ASPCA and our rescue work takes us to locations across southern New England. Our network of 75+ volunteers provides essential animal care 365 days a year, and we provide unique hands-on humane education experiences to students to cultivate a more compassionate community. Through strategic partnerships and the generosity of the communities we serve, West Place prides itself on going above and beyond.


Wolf Trap Animal Rescue’s primary mission is to operate a life-saving animal rescue transport and adoption program. These transports operate weekly, where hundreds of homeless puppies and kittens are relocated from Mississippi to awaiting foster homes in Northern Virginia. Relocating these pets helps to prevent shelters from overcrowding and unnecessary euthanasia—providing the only hope for these pets to find a home. Once transported into WTAR’s foster program in Northern Virginia, rescued pets are provided all the necessary veterinary care and training they need until they find their perfect forever home through WTAR’s adoption program.