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Every year the RSPCA’s dedicated staff and volunteers rescue, rehome and rehabilitate thousands of animals. In 2015 they also investigated more than 140,000 alleged animal cruelty complaints. This award recognises an employee or volunteer who has made an outstanding contribution to that vital work.

From the squalor of puppy farms to abusive and neglectful owners, all rescue animals have had  to overcome heartbreaking challenges. This award is for an animal that has been hurt or abandoned, but gone on to achieve something extraordinary.

Every day, in every corner of the world, animals risk their lives to keep us safe, often in the most extreme conditions. This award is to recognise those truly heroic animals and their dedication to protecting us from harm.

In the world of business, profits almost always come first. But companies have the power to make a real difference too. This award recognises a firm, small or large, that has made animal welfare an important consideration in their business practices.

History is full of tales of heroic animals, proving the bond between animals and humans is sometimes at its strongest in moments of the greatest danger. This award recognises an animal that has shown outstanding courage in a time of crisis.

Animals often forge the most heartwarming bonds with vulnerable people and those in need. This award recognises an animal who has cared for and shown compassion to an individual and made a difference to their life.

Britain may be a nation of animal enthusiasts, but the finalists in this category take their dedication to animal welfare to new heights. This award recognises an individual or group who have built a strong relationship with animals and actively work to improve their welfare.

It’s that time of year again where we assemble our stellar judging panel to decide the winners of this year’s Animal Hero Awards. You’ve entered in your thousands and our team of researchers have whittled the nominations down to our front runners for the judges to choose from.

Bertie Cheesecake and Soots were abandoned by the roadside in Cyprus at just three weeks old. Luckily for them a kind passerby took them to the Paphiakos & CCP Animal Welfare Shelter where staff ensure that all animals are taken good care of. Andrea Bell, one of the members of staff at the shelter took pity on the little puppies and took them home to foster alongside her ever growing brood of waifs and strays.

Lucy the cavalier spent all her life as a breeding dog, never stepping out of her cramped cage. Since being rescued she is now the figurehead of a national campaign in the fight against puppy farming.