In reaffirming Troy University’s commitment to its creed of having “a mind to think, a heart to feel, and a body to act,” the Trojan Heart Award was established in 2018 to recognize students, faculty and staff who have made a difference in the community. Individuals who have performed the most noteworthy good deeds are nominated to a selection committee, who then decide on a winner who receives a cash prize of $1,000 to be donated to the non-profit organization of their choice.
Among the many nominees for the inaugural Trojan Heart Award in 2018, Tiffany Howington was one of the finalists for the award. Howington is the founder of Troy Animal Rescue Project, a volunteer-run organization that provides shelter for animals.
“Her compassion for animals and drive to make a difference in their lives is amazing,” said Melissa Boatner, a Troy resident and five-year volunteer at the rescue center.
Howington primarily works with local shelters and other rescues to relocate animals that don’t have homes.
“We rescue dogs that are in danger of being euthanized, owner surrenders (ones that people can’t keep anymore), strays that people find on the road,” Howington said. “What we do is, no matter if they are injured or need help socializing or stuff like that, we take all kinds of animals in — we have pot belly pigs, up to a 150 pound dogs to gerbils.
“We take them all in and try to find them good homes.”
Howington started the organization in March of 2014 after her discovery that Troy only had a single animal shelter.
According to Howington, initially the City of Troy only had a 12-kennel facility and due to lack of outreach and social media exposure, a lot of the shelter animals would end up being euthanized.
“When I started this, the euthanizing rate at the old shelter was like 99 percent,” Howington said. “So, by the time this new shelter was built, we got that down to like 1 percent.”
Troy Animal Rescue Project is a no-kill rescue organization. Therefore, all rescues are sheltered or fostered until they are adopted into a permanent home. Currently, they house 272 animals in a primarily volunteer-run facility with many others being fostered by other people through them.
“Students are always coming out to volunteer or they need volunteer hours for their specific club or organizations,” Howington said. “A lot of college students had to leave their animals at home and so it kind of gives them some way to connect with another one because sometimes they just need to get away from the university and destress.”
Howington believes that the Trojan Heart Award encourages people to be proactive in service to Troy’s community.
“I think that anything that helps us understand that we are a part of a bigger plan than just ourselves is a good thing,” Howington said.