Every dog—no matter how ordinary—is capable of doing extraordinary things. That is what the American Humane Association (AHA) hopes to illuminate with the 2012 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards.
Hundreds of four-legged heroes were nominated, and after tallying more than two million votes, AHA has announced the eight amazing dogs who will get to travel with their guardians to Beverly Hills for a star-studded, red-carpet gala and award ceremony on October 6. Hosted by known animal lover Betty White, the Hero Dog Awards will recognize and celebrate the canine heroes for all their bravery, devotion, and love. Each winner’s guardian will receive $5,000 for a selected charity partner, and one finalist—to be announced at the event—will win top honors as the American Hero Dog for 2012 and an additional $10,000 for their selected charity.
“Each dog who was nominated is a bona fide hero,” said Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association. “Every day, across America, dogs protect, comfort, and give their unconditional friendship and affection to the ill, the inform, the wounded veteran, and the frightened child. For millennia, dogs have truly been our best friends and it is time to recognize that friendship and celebrate the heroic feats they perform for us daily.”
Each of these remarkable dogs was chosen as a winner in their specialized category. Meet the winners and see the charities they support (in parentheses):
Military Dog Category: Gabe—Retired MWD Sgt. Gabe has served our great country since 2006 when he first reported for duty. From training in Ft. Lewis, WA to completing over 210 combat missions with 26 explosive and weapons finds in Iraq, MWD Sgt. Gabe still made time throughout the day to bring love and joy to his comrades. Since retiring in 2009, MWD Sgt. Gabe has earned over 40 awards and coins of excellence for his heroic work and spends his free time educating children on the value of respect and staying in school. (The United States War Dog Association, Inc.)
Emerging Hero Category: Daniel—A beagle from an Alabama shelter on “death row,” Daniel did the unimaginable in 2011 when he survived the most inhumane form of euthanasia, the gas chamber. Since [being] adopted by his loving guardian, Joe Dwyer, Daniel the “Miracle Beagle” has used his second chance at life as an advocate for shelter adoptions and humane euthanasia legislation across the United States. (The Pine Street Foundation)
Guide Dog Category: Tabitha—Guide dog Tabitha is more than just a guide dog to her former guardian, Ann Drake, who lost her sight as an adult. Tabitha guided Ann back to a place within herself where she found the confidence that she had lost and overcame the fears of her new life. With Tabitha by her side, Ann went on to complete her undergraduate and graduate studies. (Leader Dogs for the Blind)
Law Enforcement/Arson Dog Category: Jynx— On the evening of June 29, 2011, Law Enforcement-Arson K-9 Jynx desperately worked to try and pull his guardian Sgt. Kyle Pagerly and another officer out of harm’s way as a crime suspect opened fire during a routine warrant delivery. 28-year-old Sgt. Pagerly was killed in the line of duty leaving behind his pregnant wife. If not for the swift and heroic efforts of K-9 Jynx, more officers would have lost their lives that night. (K9s4COPs)
Hearing Dog Category: Tatiana II— Hearing dog, Tatiana II, was matched with handler Cristina Saint-Blancard in 2011 as her hearing dog but quickly turned into her life-saving hero. Cristina suffers from asthma which is exacerbated by frequent ear infections and one night found herself struggling for breath and soon completely without breath. Tatiana II was quick to notice something was wrong and ran into the next room to alert Cristina’s family. If not for Tatiana II that night, Cristina would not have gone on to graduate from Purdue University last December with Tatiana II by her side. (Dogs for the Deaf)
Search and Rescue Dog Category: Soot— West Virginia Search and Rescue K-9 Soot, didn’t know he had a big job ahead of him when he was adopted by Lorraine Burdette. Soot’s training in air scent, scent discrimination, and certified search and rescue wilderness training gave him the tools he needed to rescue a lost 78-year-old diabetic hunter lost in the wilderness on a cold December morning. (The Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve)
Service Dog Category: Holly— Seizure alert Service Dog Holly never takes her attention away from her guardian, Shanna Wilkinson, who suffers from epileptic seizures. With Holly by her side, Shanna is able to embrace all of life’s gifts and challenges without fear. Together they travel and teach elementary students the importance of Service Dogs. (International Association of Assistance Dog Partners)
Therapy Dog Category: Stella— Therapy Dog Stella and her guardian Marissa Levy, dedicate their time to bringing love and joy to the residents at Richmond Community Services, a not-for-profit organization that cares for developmentally disabled children and adults. Stella is unfazed by disabilities and diseases – befriending and with time, unconditionally loving all she meets. Stella is the sunshine that beats the cloudy days for the residents and for that they are so appreciative. (Angel On A Leash)
Want to attend the Hero Dog Awards gala? Table sales are available at www.herodogawards.org or by calling (866) 242-1877.