The nation’s most outstanding pet shelters, rescue groups, and volunteers, have been recognised in this year’s Pet Insurance Australia Companion Animal Rescue Awards.

Across 10 categories, and selected by an expert panel of 21 judges, the winners were revealed at a virtual ceremony broadcast nationally by Refuel Creative and supported by Nature’s Gift.

The winners across the categories were Forever Friends Animal Rescue who was named Outstanding Rescue Group as well as having volunteer Lachlan Barnard named as Volunteer of the Year.

Other winners included Rachie’s Ratirement Home for Outstanding Animal Shelter, Ballarat Animal Shelter for Outstanding Council Animal Shelter, and Central Queensland Animal Society for Outstanding New Rescue Group, among others.

Cathy Beer, Founder of the program, said the awards were very competitive, which made it very challenging for the judges.

“Our amazing winners demonstrated excellence and innovation in their approach to improving the lives of companion animals during these difficult times.”

Other categories included People’s Rescue Story and Foster Care Story which received hundreds of entries from pet guardians who shared stories of pet adoption and fostering.

The winner of the People’s Rescue Story was Mark Bent, who adopted a severely underweight dog named Bella, who has since made a remarkable recovery and now provides Mark, who is disabled, with the motivation to push forward in life.

The Foster Care Story award was won by Rosalinda who fostered a cat named Macy who had been injured after travelling more than 50km in a car engine. Rosalinda fostered Macy until he found his forever home through Pound Rescue Inc.