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Pitch your pet hero for national award

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If you know someone who has dedicated themselves to being a hero to our furry friends, it’s time to put their name forward.

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Mark Buehrle has teamed up with Global Pet Foods, the largest Canadian-owned chain of pet food and supplies, and Hill’s Pet Nutrition to recognize Canada’s most dedicated animal caregivers.

From now until Sept. 30, Global Pet Foods is inviting people to nominate outstanding animal shelter and rescue volunteers for the second annual Heroic Heart Pet Service Award.

Four winners will be chosen from across Canada. Each recipient will receive a $1,000 cheque to support the shelter/rescue operation of their choice, plus 12 bags of Hill’s Ideal Balance pet food.   

Global Pet Foods Winnipeg store owners Chris and Debbie Delorme say devoted pet parents deserve recognition.

"They (animal caregivers) are most likely not getting paid for it. They’re giving up a lot of their time and energy just because they care," Debbie, 47, said.

"So many of these people are up at the crack of dawn, going to bed late at night and are juggling the costs of the food and vet bills, plus the time and energy," added Chris, 44.

The Delormes opened Global Pet Foods Winnipeg in May. The husband and wife team — who both formerly worked in financial planning software development — say they’ve always been animal lovers.

"We’ve had everything from dogs and cats to guinea pigs and budgies. We also have a koi pond," Debbie said, noting that the couple’s three daughters also help out at the store.
"We’ve always said if we had an opportunity to change our careers we’d do something related to animals."

They say they’d like Global Pet Foods Winnipeg to act as a hub of sorts for shelters, rescues and prospective adopters. For instance, at the store’s grand opening event in June, the Delormes brought in Manitoba Underdogs Rescue.

"We’ve talked with them, as well as a few other shelters, about bringing in groups of animals that are up for adoption into our store and taking advantage of the fact that we have a facility where there are people coming through and there’s more exposure to these dogs that need homes," Debbie said.

The Delormes say the store focuses on healthier food choices for animals, and they’re doing their best to educate customers on the importance of feeding their pet a healthy product.

"The healthier food might cost a little bit more, but the vast majority of the time you’re feeding less and the animal has less waste," Chris said. "When you do the math, you realize it’s not actually more money to buy higher quality food. You feed less, you pick up less and the animal is healthier."

To nominate a deserving volunteer for the Heroic Heart Pet Service Award, fill out a ballot online at www.facebook.com/GlobalPetFoods. Entrants must share a brief story (500 words or less) about why they believe their nominee is worthy of the award.

The 2013 Heroic Heart winners will be announced in November.

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