Horse rescuer from West Virginia wins national award

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A West Virginia woman, a leader in equine rescue and advocacy in Appalachia, will be recognized on a national stage this week.

Tinia Creamer from Shoals, the founder of Heart of Phoenix based in Cabell County, has won the “Equine Welfare Award” this year from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, also known as ASPCA.

Tinia Creamer

“The biggest thing for me when I got the news was just being so glad that progress being made in West Virginia and Appalachia was being recognized on a national platform,” Creamer said of the award.

“We have more challenges in animal welfare in our region than anywhere else in the United States.”

On Wednesday, she talked with MetroNews while en route to New York City for Thursday’s ASPCA Humane Awards Luncheon at Cipriani 42nd Street with Chuck Scarborough, an NBC anchor, as host.

Under Creamer, Heart of Phoenix operates in West Virginia and three other states offering horse rescue, rehabilitation and equine law enforcement training.

At any given time, the organization holds around 80 horses with a demand for space for three times that number, according to Creamer.

“The level of attention that our work has been gaining the past couple of years makes me really optimistic. I think we’re going to see some leaps and bounds progress as the next year or two comes,” she said.

“People see we’ve done a good job. We do a lot with the funding that we have and I think that donors nationally that care about horses really probably will, hopefully, start to focus on Appalachia.”

This year’s other ASPCA Humane Awards honorees included the following in these categories:

KID OF THE YEAR: Brady Snakovsky, age 10, from Strongsville, Ohio who, with his mom, founded a fundraising effort to provide ballistic vets for 90 police K9 officers in multiple states.

DOG OF THE YEAR: Sweet Pea from Camden, New Jersey, a former dogfighting victim now used to raise awareness about and funds for other dogfighting victims.

PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD: Sully with America’s VetDogs out of Washington, D.C., a yellow Labrador retriever working with patients at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland after serving late President George H.W. Bush.

PRESIDENTIAL SERVICE AWARD: Issac Mizrahi, a fashion designer from New York City who has been a longtime animal advocate and has two rescue dogs, Dean and Kitty.

The full list of award winners was posted HERE.

Creamer and her family founded Heart of Phoenix in 2010.

Phoenix was the name of the horse found tied to a tree with no shelter from the weather and badly neglected causing starvation, malnutrition and dehydration.

Prior to being left at the tree, Phoenix had been confined to a stall for five years.

Despite efforts from Creamer and others, Phoenix did not survive, but she inspired an effort that has, to date, overseen the rescue of more than 500 horses in West Virginia and surrounding states.

“Counties, ten years ago, if there was a neglect or cruelty situation with equines, there was no one to call. County animal control handles dogs and cats,” Creamer said.

“If a horse was being starved, there was nowhere for that horse to go. There was no funding available in the county to care for that horse and there was also no training for equines for law enforcement.”

That has changed with Heart of Phoenix which relies on contributions in many forms.

“That includes donating (funding), but it also includes volunteering in various capacities; adopting, we always have horses for adoption and we’re only able to help other horses when people choose to adopt, and also fostering,” Creamer said.

The demand for fostering climbs in the winter months, she noted.

For more information, visit the Heart of Phoenix website at

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