Polk commissioners recognize Lennie Rizzo with first Love of Animals award

Published 10:00 pm Friday, July 21, 2017

by Leah Justice

COLUMBUS – The Polk County Board of Commissioners recognized Lennie Rizzo with the first Love of Animals Award this week.

Rizzo received the award during the county’s meeting on Monday, July 17.

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Commissioners approved a resolution in honor of Rizzo as well as heard from Foothills Humane Society President Susan Wallahora.

Wallahora said the award was created this year for Rizzo.

“There’s nobody like him,” Wallahora said. “He’s done so much in this area to help animals in this community.”

The award, which for Rizzo looks like a Boxer Bulldog because that’s one of Rizzo’s favorite breeds, will be an annual award. Wallahora said they will seek Rizzo’s input every year to determine who will receive the Love of Animal award, with Rizzo also presenting the annual award.

Wallahora quoted Rizzo as saying, “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.”

Wallahora said she doesn’t know anyone who tries harder for the animals in this community than Rizzo does.

“He has been a tremendous supporter of Foothills (Humane Society), but he helps every rescue organization in this area,” Wallahora said. “There’s nobody like him.”

Rizzo has run Lennie’s Kids for many years, raising money to get help for injured animals and to find homes for rescues.

Commissioner chair Tommy Melton said he told his wife he can’t read the Tryon Daily Bulletin when it has one of Rizzo’s columns in it, because he’ll cry.

Melton approached Rizzo, gave him a hug and read a passage called “So Lucky,” about rescuing a dog.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson thanked Rizzo and others at Foothills Humane Society for making rescuing animals a way of life for Polk residents. He said his household has four rescue dogs, two rescue cats and two rescue horses.

“Lennie, you and the others at Foothills Humane Society have truly made it a way of life for many, many of us here in the county, to realize that adopting pets from the shelter, or rescue pets is a way of life,” Gasperson said.

Following is the resolution commissioners approved in honor of Rizzo:

Resolution recognizing Lennie Rizzo and his commitment to helping animals in Polk County and surrounding communities

WHEREAS, Lennie Rizzo has shown an unparalleled commitment to helping animals for over ten years; and

WHEREAS, his love for animals, especially ones with injuries and special needs sparked a passion to rescue and rehabilitate those animals affectionately known as “Lennie’s kids;” and

WHEREAS, through hard work and tenacity he raised the funds to not only physically help the animals, but to also connect his kids with forever homes bringing joy to many people throughout the community; and

WHEREAS, Lennie’s work with the Foothills Humane Society and his love for animals has made an impact in our community for present and future generations.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Polk County Board of Commissioners do hereby recognized and appreciate the incredible record of perseverance, devotion, and self-less service to the community for the love of animals.