But there was one moment that changed her life forever, and which motivates her in her campaigning work every day - the day she saw dogs been slaughtered for meat in a South Korean market.
The traumatic scenes led her to embark on a life trying to end the trade in dog meat around Asia.
Working with the Humane Society International she has also helped save thousands of dogs from slaughter for human consumption by rescuing the animals from dog meat farms and persuading farms to close.
Now based in Bali, where she lives with her ten-year-old daughter Leila, she looks after four dogs herself who she saved from dog meat farms.
After finishing a master's degree at the Royal Veterinary College in London she spent three years working for the World Society for the Protection of Animals, where she witnessed first hand the brutality of the dog meat trade.
Lola, 34, said: "I grew up with dogs like many people do, and I've always loved dogs.
"When I was 21 I watched a documentary on the dog meat trade and I was horrified, but inside I wondered if it was really that awful or if the programme was being sensational.
"When I went to South Korea in 2009 part of me was hoping to prove to myself that it wasn't that bad.
"It was the first time I'd seen dogs for sale for meat, and it turned out to be the defining moment in my life. Once you see a dog being taken out of a cage and slaughtered, when you love dogs so much, and there's nothing you can do about it because it's legal, you can never be the same again.
"Those scenes have stayed with me forever. I knew that I had two choices, either to let it destroy me, or to make a promise to do something to stop it. Whenever I get discouraged I remember what I saw and I'm motivated to carry on."
She is now the South Korea campaign manager for Humane Society International.
The charity recently managed to close their ninth dog meat farm, while over 1,000 dogs have so far been rescued and sent to loving homes in the US, Canada and the UK.
Lola said: "We're fighting a huge industry, but for me every individual animal that's rescued is a huge victory. Every time a dog leaves a meat farm or market, and you know that the dog is going to be safe and happy, it feels that we've done something amazing.
"It's also a great feeling when we persuade a dog meat farmer to close. After years of meeting with them, there isn't one who won't tell you they want to leave the industry, because the profession brings a lot of societal and family shame.
"Many of them tell us, I'll leave the trade tomorrow if you help me. But they don't want to lose their livelihoods."
One of Lola's dogs, Django, is considered a 'meat dog' breed in Korea and was rescued from a dog meat farm. She said: "We are trying hard to show that all dogs are the same, that it’s ridiculous to say that some dogs shouldn't be eaten and others can.
"So Django has become our special ambassador for the cause, so people can see that he is just the same as any other dog and should be loved and cared for."
Lola also set up Change for Animals in 2012 with "a burning desire for the suffering of millions of dogs caught up in the meat trade to end".
As well as rescuing dogs and campaigning to bring an end to the practice, the organisation also works with dog meat farmers to help those who express the desire to leave the industry.
Lola next hopes to focus on the dog meat trade in Indonesia, where she lives. She said: "It's one of the most abhorrent trades you can imagine. As I've made this country my home it's hard for me to not try to change this."
Lola said receiving an Animal Heroes award is a "huge privilege". She said: "I work with animal heroes all the time, I meet some of the most passionate, dedicated and smart people. None of us do what we do for an award, but I feel honoured and I feel it's an award that I will collect on behalf of a whole team of people."