For the first time in the award’s 33-year history, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA) has given its annual Hero Dog honor to a cat.
That’s right. Tara, a 7-year-old Tabby from Bakersfield, Calif., received the prestigious award today, along with a year’s supply of cat food.
You’ll probably remember this amazing cat from a viral May 2014 video. As 5-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo played in his front yard, a neighbor’s dog ran at him, bit his leg and pulled him off his bicycle. Before Jeremy’s mom, Erica, could do anything, Tara pounced on the dog, scaring him off.
The entire incident was recorded on the family’s security camera. Jeremy’s dad, Roger, uploaded the video to YouTube, where it’s been viewed more than 24 million times.
“We were so impressed by Tara’s bravery and fast action that the selection committee decided that a cat this spectacular should be the National Hero Dog,” spcaLA President Madeline Bernstein said in a press release.
“A cat who was abused, forgotten, or neglected by her family would not have been as likely to perform selfless, heroic acts to save her companion.”
Jeremy needed 10 stitches on his leg, but if not for Tara, who was a former stray adopted by the Triantafilo family, it could have been a lot worse.
The dog, an 8-month-old Chow/Lab mix, was surrendered by his owner to the City of Bakersfield Animal Care Center. Although several people offered to adopt and rehabilitate him, and thousands more signed online petitions asking that his life be spared, he was euthanized by the shelter per the owner’s request, the Bakersfield Californian reported on May 27, 2014.
The spcaLA National Hero Dog Award “continues to be a testament to how being kind to animals can be rewarding in so many ways,” according to the non-profit organization.
Good dog — er, cat — Tara!