Former RSPCA ACT inspector Catherine Croatto has been awarded the inaugural Animal Defenders Office's animal protection award for 2017.
The award acknowledges a significant contribution by a member of the community to animal protection in the ACT.
The office's executive director, Tara Ward, said Ms Croatto had turned around the RSPCA ACT's inspectorate during her time as a senior inspector.
"It went from having the odd hearing every few years, to getting scores of animal cruelty and neglect prosecutions to court each year," Ms Ward said.
"This is no insignificant achievement, each case would involve months and months of painstaking investigation and hard work, and Catherine would often be subjected to all manner of abuse by the people being investigated."
Ms Croatto, who was an officer with NSW Police before joining the RSPCA, was presented with the award on Thursday night.
She had the highest number of animals brought into the shelter via the inspectorate in the organisation's history. She also had the highest prosecution rate of animal abusers ever achieved during her time.
"I spent many years in the NSW Police where besides dealing with humans I attended many jobs in relation to animal cruelty," Ms Croatto said.
"Far too often these jobs resulted in me having to destroy many animals to relieve them of their suffering; too many of them were beyond veterinary help."
According to annual reports, about 40 animals were brought in the year before Ms Croatto started. When she started in 2014 it rose to about 1000 animals a year.
Her job involved seizing neglected animals, interviewing those responsible, prosecuting the serious cases and providing education.
"The connection or relationship between animals and their owners can be extremely strong, so dealing with incidences of unintentional neglect can be very, very difficult," she said.
"Convincing people that the animal would be better off with another family can be challenging."
Ms Ward thanked Ms Croatto's work and said the ACT was a better place for all creatures, great and small.