October 6, 2005
    Area Teen Is A Hero to Animals

    Fifteen-year-old Alysha Lenderman doesn't seem to think she's a hometown hero.

    "It's really interesting that I received it because I don't really feel like I did anything extraordinary," the Edgewood teen said of her latest honor. "It's all part of a normal day for me."

    But Lenderman is a hero to plenty of animals and to many people who love animals, and now she shares with State Rep. Kathy McCoy, R-Sandia Park, the distinction of being honored as a Milagro Award winner by Animal Protection of New Mexico.

    The Milagro Awards annually recognize individual and collaborative humanitarian acts on behalf of animals.

    The Edgewood teen first inspired her middle school classmates to raise $720 for special needs animals at Albuquerque's Eastside animal shelter through her program Pennies for Pound Puppies. She has since created the Community Assets Program to help low-income families in the East Mountains pay for spay and neuter services for their pets.

    Lenderman has been a volunteer at the animal shelter since she was 11, putting in hours of time over the last four years. When she's not at the shelter, Lenderman is taking her trained therapy dog to visit the elderly in nursing homes or assisted living centers. She also trains companion animals, staffs adoption events and assists in training search and rescue dogs.

    Rep. McCoy and Sen. Gerald Ortiz Y Piño, D-Albuquerque, received the "Spirit of the Mission" Milagro Award for their work in getting "Scooby's Law" legislation passed in the state and then giving it national attention.

    Scooby, a golden retriever, died from antifreeze poisoning. Both legislators worked on the bill that would require antifreeze to contain a bittering agent.

    In Spanish, milagro means miracle. But what people like Lenderman, McCoy and others do on behalf of the health and welfare of animals does not take a miracle. It takes hard work and determination— two qualities Lenderman and McCoy have in ample supply, and they deserve to be recognized for it.