MacKenzie the Chihuahua may be small, but the love in her heart is huge.
Weighing just 4 pounds, “Kenz” was born with a cleft palate that left her unable to eat or drink normally. Yet in spite of her own struggles, it became clear early on that she was more concerned with other animals’ care and comfort than her own.
The Mia Foundation is a shelter that cares for animals with birth defects in Hilton, New York. They kept Kenz alive by tube-feeding her for almost a year before she could have surgery to repair her palate. Once she could eat and drink on her own, staff members said she was finally able to “do what she was born to do.”
“Most of the animals that we rescue are babies that can’t stay with their mother due to their medical needs,” they explained. “Kenz takes an interest in each baby from day one (regardless of species or size). She plays nurse and cleans, comforts, and cuddles them. She also acts as their mom and teaches them how to socialize, play, and have good manners.”
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Kenz has played mother and nurse to dozens of animals, from injured mice to 120-pound Great Danes!
But her special duties don’t end there. She’s also an ambassador for animals with birth defects and disabilities, traveling to schools to teach children about physical differences and being open-minded.
“They learn kindness, patience, and that you can make a difference in the world no matter how small you are,” the shelter added.
Hoping to increase her reach and honor her service to animals with disabilities, The Mia Foundation entered Kenz in the American Humane Hero Dog Awards. This was the 10th anniversary of the adorable event, which aims to celebrate the joy, hope, and courage of our faithful canine friends.
At a star-studded televised event hosted by celebrity designer Carson Kressley, Kenz beat out 400 other dogs to take home the title of “Shelter Dog of the Year,” as well as the biggest prize of the night: the 2020 American Hero Dog award!
“All of the 2020 winners’ stories were so inspiring,” Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane, told Today. “And this year, during a global crisis that has caused so much pain and isolated so many, their stories of love, hope, and compassion were more needed and more important than ever before.”
The Mia Foundation is thrilled to see Kenz receive the recognition she deserves. They couldn’t believe she won the biggest award of the year, especially when her trophy arrived — and it was bigger than she is!
That’s a huge award for this tiny dog, but Mackenzie certainly earned it! We hope this prize helps spread her important message of love, acceptance, and perseverance. You don’t have to be big to make a big difference!
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