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The Missouri Veterinary Medical Foundation (MVMF) has announced the winner of the 2014 Animal Archives "Pet of the Year". The Archives offers an internet-based memorial program devoted to departed pets. This year's winner is "Meeni", a domestic shorthair cat owned by Ashley and Aaron Howard of Harrisburg, Mo. Their veterinarian is Katie Darr, DVM of My Zoo Animal Hospital, Columbia, Mo.

"Meeni" was one of six nominees in this year's competition. Nominees are chosen from the previous year's submissions to the Archives. During 2013/2014, the public was invited to vote online for their favorite departed pet based on its life story and the bond between the pet and its owners.

Voting was "nose to nose" throughout the year with close competition from "Brownie", a mixed-breed dog owned by Sandy Geissler. Nearly 4,000 votes were cast for the six candidates. An Honorable Mention goes to the other Pet of the Year candidates: "Mo", "Sophie", "Cocoa" and "Clyde".

Ashley and Aaron were very happy that their pet won the competition. "Thank you for nominating her! It's such an honor to us! We are so proud of her and miss her terribly! But having her honored like this means so much to our little family! We always knew she was an amazing cat but never imagined her being an Animal Archive of the Year!!!

The Animal Archives have been absolutely amazing! I never knew something like that even existed. When a person dies, their body goes to a cemetery where everyone can read their headstone and even if you didn't know the person you knew they existed. The Animal Archives to us is a cemetery for those pets that have crossed the rainbow bridge. It's a place people can see an animal and know they existed. But this is even better than just seeing a name and dates and an epitaph, you get to see pictures of the pet and see what they looked like! You get to appreciate their beauty and remember the good times, sad times, miss them and talk to them. I truly enjoy the Archives because I can go to her and leave her comments telling her about home, her other furry brothers & sisters, the holidays, seasons, our feelings, pretty much anything. Meeni was the first of our pets to pass and we needed to grieve her and this website did just that. My husband and I don't have traditional kids, we have "furkids". Our pets are our children and when we lost her it crushed us. This website let us share her with the world and let us memorialize her!

In December 2012, we knew something was wrong so we took her to the vet and Dr. Katie Darr, at My Zoo Animal Hospital, was our vet that day. She ran some diagnostics on her and gave us a plan to try and help her. She had turned jaundice and lost a lot of weight. Her liver was failing due to FIP. After about 2 weeks of treatments we took her back to the vet and was told to make her comfortable as her liver levels weren't getting better. There wasn't much more we could do that wasn't extremely invasive or risky. I truly appreciated her honesty and not giving us false hope. She gave us horrible news in the most loving way possible. So that's what we did. And two weeks later she passed at home with us. We cried for hours and didn't sleep all night. We had lost our little girl. When we took her little body, still wrapped in her blanket, to My Zoo to have her cremated, the emotion and amazing support I got from Ryan, Kara, Darcy and especially Dr. Katie, was so comforting. They understood she was more than just a cat, but a family member. Dr. Katie cried with me and hugged me and at that moment I knew we trusted the life of our little girl to the right person and clinic. I can't thank the My Zoo staff and Dr. Katie enough for everything they've done for us. They really do love the animals they care for and that's all I've ever wanted in a vet.

When asked to tell you what Meeni meant to us is hard to put into words. She was our everything as all our pets are. She was full of personality and spice! She could put you to sleep with her purr and her snuggles at night. She was so silly and loved to play with hair ties and those plastic rings from milk jugs. She'd carry them around and put them in the food bowl every morning. She was so beautiful and stoic. She kept everyone in line and knew when you were having a bad day and would always be able to make it better. She was so curious about everything and loved to play with just about anything that moved fast! Not a day goes by that I don't think about her or think I saw her curled up in the bed where she used to lay. I miss coming home and seeing her sitting like a little gargoyle on the kitchen counter waiting for us to come in and pet her or fighting her for the warm clothes fresh from the dryer. But I know she's not in pain or suffering. She's at the rainbow bridge laying in the sun, eating all the fancy feast she can stand and playing with as many hair ties and milk jug rings she can find. We will always miss her.

Thank you so much for having a website dedicated to those pets that are no longer with us. It really does make the grieving process easier and lets the world know Meeni existed and that she was loved to the edge of the universe and back!"

To view the 2014/2015 candidates and to vote for your favorite pet, go to the Animal Archives of Missouri website at

As a public charity, that supports the charitable and educational purposes and activities of the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), the Missouri Veterinary Medical Foundation focuses on public education and animal welfare issues to further the health of animals in Missouri. For more information on the Foundation, go to

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Kim C. Ralston
MVMF Communications


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"Meenie", the 2014 Animal Archives Pet of the Year. The annual contest is sponsored by the Missouri Veterinary Medical Foundation in Jefferson City, Mo.



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