Schwarzman Animal Medical Center Celebrates 15th Annual Living Legends Luncheon

Honoring Companion Animals Who Successfully Battled Major Health Challenges

Press Release

(New York, N.Y. – May 12, 2023) The Stephen & Christine Schwarzman Animal Medical Center (AMC) presented the 15th Annual Living Legends Awards yesterday, honoring three pets who overcame serious health issues thanks to the world-class veterinary care they received at AMC, along with their owner’s love and commitment.

Approximately 140 guests attended the event. Notables included: Jenny Paulson as well as co-chairs Donna Acquavella, Katharine Rayner, and Ann R. Tisch. Additional co-chairs included Laura Garner, Michael Heaner, Nancy M. Kissinger, Sharon Amsterdam Koplin, Emilia Saint-Amand Krimendahl, Robert Liberman, Ellen Marcus, Elizabeth Monaco McCarthy, Marianne Mebane, Kane Nussbaum, Elizabeth Gore Ross, Nicole Seligman, and Janet York.

“The extraordinary Living Legends we honor today exemplify the outstanding care that is our hallmark at AMC; they are the inspiration for what drives us to work hard and expand our hospital so we can continue to make more miracles happen,” said Helen M. Irving, RN, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer of AMC. “It’s wonderful to be among so many of AMC’s donors and friends who have come together for the Living Legends Luncheon to celebrate the unbreakable human-animal bond.”

Awards were presented to the following honorees:

Spice, a 14-year-old cat, is a familiar face at AMC’s Cancer Institute. She was first treated in 2017 for a malignant tumor on her tail. Our Surgical Oncology team removed the mass, and Spice received radiation and chemotherapy, which put her into remission. Then, in 2019, she developed a new mass on her tail. AMC clinicians amputated the tail and administered another round of chemotherapy, which again put the cancer into remission. However, when Spice returned for a regular checkup the next year, the doctors identified lameness in her back leg, which an MRI revealed to be a second cancer – large cell lymphoma, requiring further radiation and chemotherapy. After an abscess developed, the leg was also amputated. Spice is once again in remission, six years after her initial cancer diagnosis, thanks to the collaboration of our Medical, Radiation, and Surgical Oncology Services, and she is pain-free thanks to acupuncture from our Tina Santi Flaherty Rehabilitation and Fitness Service.

Charley, an eight-year-old Papillon, was ringing in the New Year with his family in upstate New York when he was suddenly attacked by another dog. The local veterinary ER found broken bones in his neck, which left him unable to walk, but there were no neurologists available nearby to provide further treatment. So, Charley was transferred to AMC, where our ER team took over Charley’s care; our Diagnostic Imaging staff stayed late to perform a CT scan and an MRI when he arrived. The tests revealed both a spinal luxation and a blood clot on Charley’s spinal cord, requiring emergency surgery. Charley spent several days recovering in the ICU, where our Critical Care team monitored his progress and provided pain management around the clock. Although initially it was uncertain if Charley would ever walk again, he now scampers around happily, thanks to the dedicated and collaborative efforts of the AMC team throughout the holiday weekend.

Polly Rhythm
Polly Rhythm, a 58-year-old Amazon parrot, is our oldest Living Legend! This sweet, talkative guy visited the AMC’s Emilia Saint-Amand Krimendahl Institute for Trauma Care after falling awkwardly off his perch. He was triaged and stabilized in the ER before seeing Dr. La’Toya Latney in AMC’s Avian & Exotic Pet Medicine Service. Dr. Latney suspected that Polly had suffered a stroke, which is common in older parrots. A CT scan confirmed this diagnosis. Polly responded immediately to treatment and was soon discharged. However, the stroke impacted Polly’s vocal abilities, and he tragically lost the ability to sing. That’s when AMC’s Tina Santi Flaherty Rehabilitation and Fitness Service took over. They designed a full rehabilitation program, including exercises to be done at home, and, within two weeks, Polly had made great progress and started singing again.

About the Stephen & Christine Schwarzman Animal Medical Center

The Schwarzman Animal Medical Center (AMC) is the world’s largest non-profit animal hospital with 130+ veterinarians providing the highest quality medical care across more than 20 specialties and services, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our mission to provide the best in care, research, and education has been the foundation of our work for over a century. Learn more at

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