By Josh Saunders
From war veterans to protecting the Pope and surviving the meat trade – meet the courageous canine contenders battling it out to be AMERICA’S TOP DOG
The final 21 heroic hounds have been announced yesterday (May 16) by the American Humane Society for the Dog Hero Awards to choose the most heroic hounds.
It has the categories: Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, Military Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Service Dogs, Emerging Hero Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, and Guide/Hearing Dogs.
They were whittled down from a staggering 266 entries following more than half a million votes – earning each of the dogs a place in their respective field.
From the military dogs who have been on patrol to search out IEDs and combatted live fire, to one who worked security for Pope Francis and another that discovered a 60-pound bomb.
One survivor of the South Korea dog meat trade raising awareness online, to a cleft palate pup that founded a charity to take in death-row dogs, and one redefining perceptions of disability after being born blind and with inverted legs.
The search and rescue dogs have found missing people when traditional searchers couldn’t do any more, from a teen to those affected by Hurricane Harvey and even drowned victims.
One narcotics dog assisted in 2,200 finds and seizures, while another helped in mass Mexican drug arrests, and one pooch that putting its life on the line to capture a murder suspect.
The selected guide dogs have helped a woman embrace motherhood, one that help the second ever blind man complete a 100-mile run, and another who helps his autistic owner ‘expand her boundaries’.
Then service dogs including: the first to be allowed to work in a lab, one that helped his owner overcome discard his walker, and helping veterans overcome post-traumatic stress.
Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane president and CEO, said: “For thousands of years, mankind has had a special relationship with dogs, and the American Humane Hero Dog Awards are our way of honoring the best of our best friends.
“This unique awards show celebrates the unbreakable human-animal bond, which has been a core part of our organization’s mission since 1877.”
The eighth annual Hero Dog Awards will see seven finalists flown to Los Angeles for a red-carpet event in September.
It will be broadcast on the Hallmark Channel to over a billion viewers worldwide.
The winners of each individual grouping with be announced alongside the coveted overall competition winner who will win a whopping $7,500 for their affiliated charity.
Previous hosts, judges, awards presenters and entertainment acts have included: Jay Leno, Whoopi Goldberg, Bindi Irwin, Billy Crystal, Katharine McPhee, Alison Sweeney and many more.
Lois Pope, philanthropist and presenting sponsor, said: “The Hero Dog Awards recognize some of America’s bravest heroes on both ends of the leash.
“From those who defend our country to those who help us heal, guide us, protect us, and help find the lost, every single contender exemplifies the courage and heroism we seek to spotlight in this campaign.
“Our goal is not only to honor these magnificent dogs but to inspire America to reflect on the outsized contributions that animals make in our lives each and every day.”
For more information about the 2018 American Humane Hero Dog Awards®, and to vote daily in the contest, please visit www.herodogawards.org.
FACT BOXES FOR THE 21 SEMI FINALISTS FOR DOG HERO AWARDS
LAW ENFORCEMENT/ARSON DOGS CATEGORY
K-9 Flash, from Detroit, Michigan.
Picked up on the streets, he works on the narcotics detection unit with over 2,200 finds and seizures and 3,000 deployments.
K-9 Odin, a German Shepherd, from Katy, Texas.
Utilized to apprehend and capture a murder suspect, performing bravely and perfectly to capture the suspect. He also ensured no other police officer was hurt that day.
K-9 Kano, a Red Nose Pit Bull, from Seward, Kansas.
He has assisted with three drug offenses incldugin eight grams of methamphetamine, $7,500 of marijuana, and drug paraphernalia.
EMERGING HERO DOGS CATEGORY
Willow, from Las Vegas, Nevada.
A survivor of the South Korean dog meat trade, after his owners turned him to the slaughterhouse for being old. He suffered neglect, his ears cut, matted hair, a mouth of bad teeth and infected tongue. His story has raise awareness of the trade.
Josh, from Sun Valley, California.
Born with a cleft palate and rescued from a shelter that was preparing to euthanise him. His owner was inspired to set up a foundation to rescue pets on death row, that are disabled, terminal or in critical need of care.
Noah, from Mineral Point, Wisconsin.
Born without eyes and inverted back legs, he travels to schools to teach about disability, redefine perceptions, tolerance, acceptance and more. He also visits elderly care homes. Some have said he should have been euthanised but he battles to show why not.
GUIDE/HEARING DOGS CATEGORY
Frances, a Labrador, from Staten Island, New York.
Her owner, adopted her after losing her eyesight while battling cancer and found out she was pregnant. She now helps her with motherhood, helping to guide her to preschool, doctors appointments and more. As well as doing advocacy work.
Xaverie, from Berlin, New Hampshire.
She helps her blind and autistic owner to communicate and feel more confident. She accompanies her owner to read braille books to children at a day care centre. Helping her to seeing expand her boundaries.
Klinger, from Folsom, California.
He became the first ever certified dual purpose running guide dog in America, tasked with working alongside his blind owner, Richard, who was struck by a car while on a tandem bicycle. His work helped Richard to become the second blind runner to complete a 100 mile run.
MILITARY DOGS CATEGORY
Summer, a Labrador, from Mount Airy, Maryland.
War dog deployed with 1st Battalion, 7th Marines to Afghanistan in 2012, where she conducted patrols, searched and found weapons caches and IEDS. As well as clearing routes and getting caught in fire fights. As well as bomb safety work for multiple areas and security for Pope Francis.
MWD Jig M834, from Lambertville, Missouri.
Served as a Improvised Detection Dog for the U.S. Marine Corps for three years – and became the ‘poster dog’ for the service. After being discharged she was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour and has battled six rounds of chemo. Now with another condition too, she takes on a different battle.
Sergeant Fieldy, a Labrador, from McAllen, Texas.
Served in Afghanistan in four tours combatting IEDs and other explosives – including a 60-pound homemade plastic barrel bomb. He was honoured with a K-9 Medal of Courage award on Capitol Hill, and participated in the New York Veteran’s Day Parade.
SEARCH AND RESCUE DOGS CATEGORY
K-9 Ruby, from East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
After a teen went missing for 36 hours without any luck of finding her. The police dog, who spent time growing up with the teen, was dispatched and after hours of searching was successful in finding him.
Piglet, from Lancaster, California.
The dog and her companion have committed hundreds of hours to training and testing, as well as regularly being called on to search for the missing. She has also located a drowned victim after searchers struggling for seven days.
Skye, from Dallas, Texas.
After being abandoned she trained to become a disaster search dog, including a most recent 15-day deployment to Hurricane Harvey. She also serves as an unofficial therapy dog in oncology, for her owner who has nil-low antibodies and suffers pneumonia and bronchitis.
SERVICE DOGS CATEGORY
Sampson, from Foosland, Illinois.
He is the first service dog to gain access to a university biology and research laboratory. His influence is currently being measured in labs. In addition to helping people with brain injuries, psychological disorders and PTSD.
Charlie, from Tremont, Illinois.
His owner Todd, 41, has needed 21 brain surgeries and replaced shunts over the years, after suffering a stroke he had to relearn to walk. It wasn’t expected he would be able to move without a walker without the support of his therapy dog. He also swims and recently finished a modified triathlon thanks to the pet.
Roxy, a Pit Bull, from Canton, North Carolina.
His owner Justin, an Iraq war veteran who was blown-up by an IED, defies Post-Traumatic Stress and a Traumatic Brain Injury thanks to his therapy dog. She also now helps other veterans battling difficult times.
THERAPY DOGS CATEGORY
Chi Chi, from Phoenix, Arizona.
Quadruple amputee left for dead in South Korea, found in a garbage bag with her legs bound, worn to the bone and necrotized. She’s now used to her prosthetics and is a therapy dog. She recently had cancerous tumours removed. She inspires people online through her online therapy work.
Jeanie, from Lake Charles, Los Angeles.
Found homeless and crippled, the three-legged dog went from rescue to therapy dog. She comforts children who are questioned by forensic investigators in physical and sexual abuse cases, violent crimes and homicides. She also volunteers at hospitals, schools, nursing homes and more.
Bandit, a Great Dane, from St Robert, Missouri.
Rescued at 14-weeks and found severely deformed. He now works with soldiers on suicide watch supporting wounded warriors around the word. For many soldiers with deformities he is a pillar of strength. He also supports children mourning lost parents and loved ones.