The 2019 DWAA Awards Banquet takes place the evening of Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019 at the iconic New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan. We are thrilled to feature keynote speeches by two beloved luminaries in the pet writing community: NBC’s Jill Rappaport and radio host/journalist Steve Dale.

We’ll also be announcing the winners of our annual writing competition, awarding Maxwell Medallions as well as $15,950 in special awards thanks to our generous sponsors!

Please join us for an unforgettable evening of networking and celebration! Download our Awards Banquet Program to get all the details of this great event!

Download Our Program


per person

  • Writing competition awards ceremony
  • Dinner with choice of Entrée
  • Speakers Jill Rappaport and Steve Dale


Sunday, February 10, 2019

4-5 p.m. – General Membership Annual Meeting
5-6 p.m. – Banquet registration/Cash bar opens
6:15 p.m. – First speech begins
7-9 p.m. – Dinner service and awards ceremony


The New Yorker

A Wyndham Hotel
The Herald Square Room – 3rd Floor
481 Eighth Ave.
New York, NY  10001
(212) 971-0101

Special Hotel Rates

We have special hotel rates at The New Yorker with the discount code “DWAA” until Friday, Dec. 21, 2018:

  • Metro Classic Queen Room on Friday, Feb. 8, 9 and/or 10, 2019 – $229/night plus tax
  • Executive Renovated Queen Room on Friday, Feb. 8, 9 and/or 10, 2019 – $249/night plus tax
  • Executive or Metro Rooms with two double beds – add $20/night

*Please call and ask for in-house reservations during business hours: 212-971-0101, extension 5636 – then make a reservation with the “DWAA” group block.

Office Hours:
Monday-Friday: 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. EST
Saturday: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday: closed

Please call now – the deal is only held until Friday, Dec. 21. Rates can fluctuate after that date. Thanks!

Visit the New Yorker online.

Dinner Menu


Traditional Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons and Parmesan Cheese

Choice of Entrée:

  • Spinach Tortellini with Lemon Cream Sauce
  • Herb French Cut Chicken Breast in a Sauce Poivrade (wine reduction and pepper), served with Butter and Leek Whipped Potatoes and Sautéed Broccolini


Individual Tiramisu



Jill Rappaport

Jill Rappaport is an award-winning animal advocate, network journalist and best-selling author, known nationwide as the popular, longtime correspondent on NBC.

Considered a “Voice for the Voiceless,” Jill works tirelessly to make a difference for animals in need by shining a light on shelters across America.

Rappaport is also the host and consulting producer of Animal Planet’s new show “Dog Bowl,” which was an idea she came up with to shine a light on older animals in need.

Her rescue segments are beloved.

She launched her award-winning segment “Bow To Wow” on NBC’s TODAY show and this popular series aimed at finding shelter animals a one-way ticket to a loving home, ran for eight years and had a 100% adoption record.

In addition, Rappaport’s heartfelt animal welfare stories for NBC’S Nightly News really resonated, all going viral.

In 2015 she was the Creator, Executive Producer, and Host of “Best In Shelter With Jill Rappaport,” a half-hour special focusing on the “underdogs” of the shelter world: seniors, special needs dogs and pit bulls. It aired on NBC, and featured Betty White, Lindsey Vonn, Bryant Gumbel, Emmylou Harris and Bernadette Peters. Once again, ALL the dogs featured in the show found a permanent, loving home.

Most recently she did several rescue segments for ABC’s “The View” called “Rappaport to the Rescue” including hosting their 2015 “Mutt Special” and once again she has maintained a 100% adoption record!

And this year again she was part of Animal Planet’s coveted “Puppy Bowl,” hosting all of the rescue segments in the special.

Steve Dale

Steve Dale, certified animal behavior consultant (CABC), is the host of two nationally syndicated radio shows, Steve Dale’s Pet World and The Pet Minute (together heard on more than 100 radio stations, syndicated Black Dog Radio Productions, since 2005). He’s also a special contributor at WGN Radio, Chicago, and program host of Steve Dale’s Pet World (since 1997). He formerly hosted the nationally broadcast Animal Planet Radio.

For 21 years, his twice weekly newspaper column was syndicated by the Chicago Tribune. Steve was a contributing editor for USA Weekend (2002 to 2014), and regular columnist at Cat Fancy magazine (2006 to 2014). He has written for a long list of magazines, from People to Dog World (where he was a columnist).

He’s currently a columnist and contributing editor for CATster, andauthors a column called Steve Dale’s Vet World for Veterinary Practice News. He’s also a columnist for the Journal of National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America.

He also contributes blogs for various websites, including for Victoria Stilwell.

On TV, he’s appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, National Geographic Explorer, Pets: Part of the Family (PBS), Fox News, various Animal Planet shows, and many others. For several years, Steve was a regular contributor to Superstation WGN-TV morning news, then appeared regularly on WMAQ-TV, Chicago. Currently, he’s a contributor to nationally syndicated HouseSmarts TV. Steve’s also a frequent host of satellite media tours.

In print, he’s been quoted in the Wall Street JournalUSA TodayLos Angeles TimesRedbook, various veterinary publications, and dozens more. He has also appeared as an expert guest on countless radio programs.

Steve co-edited Decoding Your Dog, written by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014). Steve’s the author of ebooks, Good Dog! and Good Cat! (Chicago Tribune, 2013). He’s the author of several other books, including DogGone Chicago and American Zoos.

He’s written introductions or contributed chapters and forewords to many books, including Bonding With Your DogDog Spelled BackwardsThe Compassion of DogsRaising My Furry ChildrenChristmas Cats, and Angel Animals and the Kids Who Love Them.

Steve was an external reviewer for the 2005 Feline Behavior Guidelines (American Association of Feline Practitioners) and is a contributor to textbooks “The Cat: Clinical Medicine and Management” (edited Dr. Susan Little, 2011) and “Treatment and Care of the Geriatric Veterinary Patient” (edited Dr. Mary Gardner and Dr. Dani McVety, 2017).

He’s the primary author of the CATegorical Care: An Owner’s Guide to America’s Number #1 Companion (reviewers include AVMA, SAWA), published American Humane Association/CATalyst Council, 2010). He co-authored (with Dr. Sagi Denenberg) the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior Position Statement on Breed-Specific Legislation (2014).

Steve is a founder of the CATalyst Council and served on the Board of Directors from 2008 to 2012. After six years, in 2012, he cycled off the Board of Directors of the American Humane Association and served as a National Ambassador. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Tree House Humane Society, Chicago (2005 to 2016). He’s also on the Board of Directors of the Winn Feline Foundation (2007 to present), American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians (2016 to present). He’s an Advisory Board Member of Chicago Friends of Animal Care & Control (2013-present), SPCA Puerto Vallarta (2016 to present) and Grey Muzzle Organization (2017 to present).

Steve is also a part of an AVMA/AAHA initiative to encourage preventive veterinary care, called Partners for Health Pets.  In 2014, Steve co-founded Veterinary Professionals Against Puppy Mills, and serves on the Board of Directors. Steve is on the Pet Partners Human-Animal Bond National Advisory Board (2015 to present) and National Advisory Council Member American Association of Feline Practitioners (20016 to present). He was National Advisory Board Member Angel on a Leash (2005 to 2016) and Task Force on Feline Sterilization (2015-2017).

Steve’s a speaker for American Association of Feline Practitioners Cat Friendly Practices and the Fear Free Initiative. He’s on the Fear Free Advisory Council (2013 to present) and is the Chief Correspondent Fear Free Happy Homes.

In Chicago, Steve created the Chicago Task Force on Companion Animals and Public Safety (2000-2010), where three-times proposed breed bans were over-turned and twice over-turned proposed mandated pediatric spay/neuter, as well as proposed pet limit laws. The Task Force also created guidelines for ‘doggy day care.’ As a pet advocate, Steve has testified many times against breed specific bans, pet limit laws, etc. in the Chicago area and elsewhere. Steve personally advised Illinois Governor Pat Quinn regarding pet-related issues.

Among Steve’s many awards, the AVMA Humane Award (the only AVMA honor bestowed to a non-veterinarian), Editor and Publisher syndicated newspaper Feature Writer of the Year Award, AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Public Service Award (twice), HSUS Pets for Life Award,American Humane Association Media Award, American Pet Products Association Pet Industry Outstanding Media Representative of the Year, and has been honored with over 15 Maxwell’s Awards from the Dog Writers Association of America and over 15 Muse Awards from the Cat Writers’ Association of America. He’s also been honored by the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association, University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, and was the first recipient of the Winn Feline Foundation Media Appreciation Award, and many others.

In 2012, Steve became the youngest person ever inducted into the Dog Writers Association of America Hall of Fame.

After his beloved cat Ricky passed away in 2002 of feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), Steve created a fund to raise money to research this often-fatal disease. He’s helped to raise over $200,000 – and as a direct result a genetic test was created to determine if a gene defect for HCM exists for two breeds.

Steve’s a regular speaker at veterinary and shelter conferences around the world, and for shelter fundraisers, and other special events, including SXSW. Steve’s presented at each of the major U.S. veterinary conferences (numerous times), and at state and regional meetings as well as at veterinary schools, and several times for the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. He’s also spoken at the World Small Animal Veterinary Association Conference (Sydney, Australia); Latin American Veterinary Conference (Lima, Peru); Congreso Veterinario de Leon (Leon, Mexico); Caribbean Veterinary Conference (Sr. Kitts); and (via Skype) Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists Veterinary Behaviour Chapter Science Week (Brisbane, Australia).

Steve’s persistence convinced the Chicago White Sox to allow dogs at a major league baseball game – today, ball parks around America have periodic “dog days” promotions. In 2004, he suggested Mercury Skyline Cruiseline create “The Canine Cruise,” a dog-friendly architecture cruise for dogs on Lake Michigan/Chicago River, also replicated in other cities.

Steve is also the host (since 2015) of a popular WGN Podcast, Steve Dale’s Other World (about topics generally unrelated to pets).

Two of Steve’s favorite honors: Commencement Speaker at Madison Square Garden for Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (2008), and appearing (in 2012) as 59 across in a TV Guide Crossword Puzzle (pet journalist Steve _ _ _ _).