Annual Animal Hero Awards honoring its first ever horse recipient

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

A mini horse is receiving a big honor next month, at the Friends of Animal Care and Control's 14th Annual Hero Awards.

"Raleigh is our first-ever horse. Historically we've honored dogs and cats, so we're very excited to be able to bring attention to some of the great work that mini horses are doing," said Friends Executive Director Leanna Taylor.

Raleigh is a 10-year-old miniature horse who was rescued by Joey Ogburn from an abuse and neglect situation about five years ago.

"The moment I met him, I just knew he was going to be the most amazing therapy horse," Ogburn said.

Ogburn is the founder and President of Mini Angel Eyes, an organization that has several certified therapy miniature horses.

She says it took some time for Raleigh to come around.

"He was terrified of humans," she said. "He actually would run to the furthest end of the corral and shake whenever there was a human around him."

Half a decade later, and Raleigh is thriving, helping seniors, veterans and even children.

"It really takes their mind off of maybe why they're there or what they'll have to face in the near future," said Ogburn.

Learning that they'd been selected for the award was a surprise and an honor.

"I don't know anybody who deserves it more than Raleigh; he works really hard," she said. "He can feel that this is a very happy time for us."

There are a few different categories for the event, Raleigh is receiving the Animal Survivor award.

"We see, unfortunately, so many instances of abuse and neglect in the community but it's really the animals who have risen above that to contribute and give something back to the community," Taylor said.

Four other animals, all dogs, and one human are also being honored at the event, which takes place on March 4, 2017.

"It really is just to highlight the value that pets bring to our everyday lives," said Taylor.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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