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Rio Vista Gives Awards For Outstanding Animal Rescue Work

Rio Vista Press Release

SANTA MARIA, CA— for the past 6 years the Rio Vista Fund presents the Annual “Hank Award” to an individual and organization that exemplifies “outstanding equine or canine rescue work”. Rio Vista Products, manufacturer of top quality grooming and specialty feed products for horses and dogs, said that there were numerous nominees that merited recognition, thus making their award selection even more difficult. After evaluating eligible nominees, the awards committee has selected the individual and the rescue agency as recipients of the 2003 Hank Award!

Melissa Susko has been selected in the individual category for her outstanding rescue work with PIGS, a Sanctuary, in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Melissa’s work definitely epitomizes “outstanding equine or canine rescue work” recently rescuing a draft horse that was 500 pounds underweight and a dog that was burned over one third of its body. Melissa Susko, now the Executive Director of PIGS, Inc., a Sanctuary, has breathed life into a sanctuary that was in crisis. She started as the Farm Manager and hired, trained and managed staff; supervised Sanctuary renovations; spearheaded facility improvements; interfaced with donors, and most importantly, provided round the clock care to almost 500 animals, including horses, dogs and pigs. Described as an animal’s best friend, Melissa gives of herself to provide the love and special care to these sick and dying animals thus improving their quality of life.

Last Chance Ranch, Inc. of Quakertown, Pennsylvania has been named the winner in the agency category. Last Chance Ranch, Inc. a non-profit, all volunteer organization works tirelessly to rescue and rehabilitate all breeds of horses, ponies, donkeys and mules that are often forgotten about and more often sent to slaughter. While the foremost objective of Last Chance Ranch is to rescue equines in need, LCR is very involved with the community. They work with local law enforcement and SPCA’s to provide educational tours and seminars for both children and adults. LCR works closely with local youth services allowing troubled youth to work off their community service hours while granting them a chance to bond with these very special animals.

Each Hank Award winner receives the bronze sculpture “Friends,” by Sherry Wolfenbarger Cagan, depicting a dog and horse together, a financial grant and a year’s supply of Rio Vista Products. The Rio Vista Fund policy was established in 1996 stating that a portion of each sale a Rio Vista product is set aside for the benefit of abused, neglected or mistreated horses or dogs. “The Fund remains the finest thing we do,” said James Towle, “and we are proud to reward the work of those who give so much of themselves. Equine and canine rescue is not just a job, it’s a calling.” Nominations are being accepted for the 2004 Hank Award and applications can be requested from Rio Vista Products.

Nominations close December 31, 2004. Rio Vista products are sold in tack, feed and pet stores throughout the United States and Canada. For more information, contact the company at (800) 248-6428 or e-mail at or visit their web site at