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Fallon Lennox and Yeti, who rescued Fallon, 6, when he slipped on a rock and fell into a river. Photo courtesy
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HWAC honors rescue pet hero

The Helen Woodward Animal Center’s sixth annual Remember Me Thursday worldwide event on Sept. 27 added something new this year to a day aimed at helping raise awareness for orphaned pets. In partnership with Blue Buffalo, the center shared that the Rescue Pet Hero award has become a new tradition.

According to Jessica Gercke, the public relations director at Helen Woodward, the idea behind Remember Me Thursday is to shine a light on orphaned pets on the fourth Thursday in September.

“Remember Me Thursday is when everybody all over the world shares on social media to adopt pets — it’s to light a candle and remember those that never found a forever home, and it shines a light on those that are still waiting to find a loving home,” Gercke said.

For the first time this year, Gercke said that it presented a Rescue Pet Hero award. The honors went to Yeti, a rescue from the Verde Valley Humane Society in Arizona, who did something extraordinary.

Gercke said Yeti had a rough start in life.

“Yeti had been adopted and then brought back twice,” she said. “He’s a pit bull blend, and the second time he came back he had a broken leg.” She added that nobody really knew how he was injured.

Gercke shared that a number of rescue facilities may consider a dog unadoptable if the animal has been returned a couple of times. In Yeti’s case, he needed medical care.

“It’s a great joy to all of us here at Helen Woodward Animal Center that the shelter in Verde Valley really understood how remarkable this dog was and that he should be given another chance,” Gercke said.

After Yeti’s leg was healed, he was adopted by the Lennox Family. Gercke explained that the family wasn’t looking for a large dog, but Yeti’s affectionate and goofy ways won them over.

One day, the Lennox family went down to the Verde River for a Sunday picnic in early April. The water was cold, Gercke said, so no one went swimming.

“Everybody was just sitting along the banks eating, and 6-year-old Fallon was playing on the rocks, and he slipped and fell into this very cold, rushing water,” Gercke said. “Yeti jumped into the water and started swimming after him — the little boy couldn’t swim and was screaming, and the family was running down the shore yelling at Fallon to hold onto Yeti because Yeti was trying to help him.”

The boy held onto Yeti, who pushed him up to the rocks. Yeti saved Fallon’s life.

“It’s an amazing story,” Gercke said. “When we save the lives of these animals, we never know whose life they’ll save in return. Whether it’s through love and affection or whether it’s literally them saving our lives, these animals can do amazing things — their love and devotion to us is unmatched.”

To learn more about Helen Woodward Animal Center, visit