FHS establishes the annual Lennie Rizzo award

Published 3:35 pm Friday, May 26, 2017

The puppy struggled to pull herself around, falling and getting back up to fall again. Too closely inbred, she had been born without bones in her front legs but that was not going to stop her from trying to play with a toy. The little pit bull’s simple joy in living, without blame, regret, or self-pity, took Lennie Rizzo by the heart that day in 2007. It sparked a passion and the former Navy ensign, fashion model, demolition expert, custodian supervisor, and pet sitter had found his first “kid.”

He would not to be deterred and rallied veterinarians and donors until finally, the dog walked on reconstructed legs into her new home. The dog became Cassie, and she brought not only happiness but also inspiration to her new mom, a teacher with debilitating knee problems.

Lennie had not only touched the life of a dog in need but a person as well. And this would be only the beginning.

The inaugural “Lennie Rizzo Award for the love of animals” was given by Susan Wallahora, board president of the Foothills Humane Society, to Lennie in recognition of his ten years of selfless work for the welfare of “Lennie’s Kids.” The award will be given annually by FHS to an individual who best follows Lennie’s example. (photo by Vincent Verrecchio)

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Now, ten years later, the Foothills Humane Society, recognizes an incredible record of perseverance, devotion, and self-less work for “Lennie’s Kids.” At the annual FHS Animal Fair, Susan Wallahora, FHS board president, announced and presented to Lennie the inaugural “Lennie Rizzo Award for the love of animals.”

The cold cast bronze statue is in the image of Lennie’s favorite breed. “I love all of my kids,” enthuses Lennie with an energy that jumps from him to you, “but Boxers get so excited to please.”

Susan was especially pleased for personal reasons in making the award. Her beloved Gizmo, a family member for many years, was Lennie’s second “kid” found abandoned with a broken hip and leg.

In the future, “The Lennie” will be given annually to an individual who best follows Lennie’s example.

Lennie says, “Love is not enough. It’s the most important part, but it’s the easy part, then comes the work. Work over time, a person pulling many folks together, all willing to focus on the animals. I’ve made mistakes, but continue to try my best.

“When it comes to my kids, I have no shame. I ask for help. I would like to see the award stay in our area, let’s say from about Inman to Saluda.”

– article submitted by Vincent Verrecchio