Congratulations to the 2016 Animaltarian of the Year, Big Cat Rescue

Also, a huge congratulation to the very close runner up, Southeast German Shepherd Rescue's Phoenix Dog Program, and the rest of the amazing 2016 #Animaltarian finalists and nominees.

Each year, PetPartners sponsors the #Animaltarian of the Year Award to help create awareness and bring recognition to the amazing animal advocates who dedicate so much of their time and energy to helping animals. Each year, the winner receives $5,000 to assist in their efforts.

This year we saw an enormous amount of support from voters who are passionate about the betterment of animal welfare. We appreciate this support, as any positive impact that Animaltarian of the Year can have on this trend is a victory to us here at PetPartners.

This year, we also received a lot of feedback and comments regarding the winning organization. So much so, that we felt it necessary to take the time to research and review every comment before crowning the winner. We want to assure everyone that all voting data was carefully reviewed and all feedback was taken into consideration. In an effort to help clarify our decision to honor the popular vote winner, we outlined the top areas of concern that were brought to our attention.

Votes were illegally cast by use of a "bot"
The biggest concern we received was that the winning organization receiving a very large number of votes in a short period of time in the final day of voting. Automated voting systems are a big concern for all online voting platforms. Because of this, we carefully analyze all voting data during, and immediately after each round. This year, the winner and the runner up remained neck and neck in number of votes each day throughout round two. On the last day, both of these nominees had a very large surge in votes between 3:00pm and 6:00pm EST, however the winning organization had a larger surge.

Nominees were cheating by instructing supporters to vote multiple times per day
We received a lot of feedback on this topic. After much scrutinizing, we could not identify a single instance of a nominee instructing supporters to do this. All examples showed supporters, not the nominee themselves, informing supporters on how to vote more than once per day. We cannot hold the nominees responsible for the actions of others. This issue combined with the in-depth analysis that was required for voting, may force us to remove the public voting portion in future contests.

The winning organization is not deserving of the award
We received several comments about the winning organization and why they did not deserve to win. The winner of the Animaltarian of the Year Award is determined by a public voting process. The winner is the nominee with the most votes. This year we had enough feedback about the surge of vote numbers and concerns about the winner that we took extra time to research everything in detail prior to announcing.

We reviewed all the feedback provided, read countless online articles and spoke with the organization in question, and did not find any violations to the official rules nor did we find a valid reason to overturn the voting decision of the public. "Animaltarian" is about animal welfare and there are many different types of rescues that help a certain classification of animals. Big Cat Rescue focuses on all cats, domestic and wild. We have been advised and researched that rabbits and rats are fed to some animals that are being rehabilitated to be released back into the wild. While none of us at PetPartners like the idea we understand why it has to be done and hope that everyone will take that into consideration.

We also spoke with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regarding the organization’s licensing and inspections. The FWC confirmed that the organization is indeed properly licensed and in compliance with all rules and regulations. To address comments pertaining to past inspection reports, specifically enclosure improvements and repairs, we found that the most recent inspections by the FWC revealed no violations.

Have a Role in Future Animaltarian of the Year Awards

With Animaltarian of the Year growing in popularity each year we are seeing that animaltarians are everywhere in the form of individual animal advocates and supporters of larger organizations such as yourself. With so many humans willing to help the cause we have decided to call on you to help shape the future of Animaltarian of the Year. If you are an animaltarian and would like to be part of promoting animal welfare simply send an email to animaltarian@petpartners.com. We will soon start sending out communications on how you can help us promote animal welfare.