Finalists chosen for American Hero Dog Awards

Oklahoman Published: July 11, 2012
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NEW YORK -- In what is clearly shaping up to be the most popular and unifying campaign of 2012, Americans of every political persuasion have come together in unprecedented numbers, casting more than two million votes to select the finalists in the 2012 “American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards.”

From an outstanding field of hundreds of four-legged heroes representing every U.S. state, eight of America’s top dogs were chosen as winners in their specialized category, one in each of the following areas: Law Enforcement and Arson Dogs; Service Dogs; Therapy Dogs; Military Dogs; Guide Dogs; Search and Rescue Dogs; Hearing Dogs; and Emerging Hero Dogs, honoring ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things.

These eight super dogs will travel with their guardians to Beverly Hills for a star-studded, red-carpet gala and award ceremony featuring VIP presenter Betty White and other canine-loving celebrities, to be held in the ballroom of the landmark Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday, Oct. 6.

Each finalist will be presented with a Hero Dog award for their feats of loyalty, bravery, and love, and win $5,000 for a selected charity partner. In addition, announced live from our stage, one finalist will walk away with top honors as the winning American Hero Dog for 2012, securing an additional $10,000 for their charity partner.

The Hero Dog Awards, which are presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation and produced by Emmy® award-winning MRB Productions, will air as a 90-minute special Friday, Nov. 2 on Hallmark Channel as part of Pet Project, the network’s cross-platform campaign designed to celebrate the joy and enrichment animals bring to our lives.

“The many ways in which dogs enrich, protect, and save our lives is nothing short of remarkable,” says Bill Abbott, president and CEO, Crown Media Family Networks. “Hero Dog Awards is a fitting tribute to our eight finalists, and shines a spotlight on countless canine heroes worldwide who make extraordinary contributions on our behalf every day.”

“Each dog who was nominated is a bona fide hero,” says Robin Ganzert, President and CEO of American Humane Association.

“Every day, across America, dogs protect, comfort, and give their unconditional friendship and affection to the ill, the infirm, 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.

"We thank them, their owners and handlers, and the generous sponsors who have helped bring about that recognition – The Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Hallmark Channel, MRB Productions, Pfizer Animal Health, State Farm, Trupanion, Merial, Zoom Room, PetHub, Dog Is Good, Modern Dog magazine, KONG, and Zuke’s. Thank you all!”

The Hero Dog Awards program was created by the American Humane Association to recognize and honor the powerful relationship between dogs and people.

The annual national competition searches out and recognizes America’s Hero Dogs who unconditionally avail themselves to us in so many important ways, whether it’s saving lives on the battlefield, lending sight or hearing to a human companion, providing therapeutic support to those suffering from cancer or other terminal illnesses, or helping autistic children find their voice and connect with the world.

The category winners are:

MILITARY DOG CATEGORY

Winner: GABE (Columbia, SC) – Retired MWD Sgt. Gabe has served our great country since 2006 when he first reported for duty. From training in Fort Lewis, Wash., 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. (Charity Partner: The United States War Dog Association, Inc.)

EMERGING HERO CATEGORY

Winner: DANIEL (Nutley, N.J.) – Daniel, a beagle from an Alabama shelter on “death row,” did the unimaginable in 2011 when he survived the most inhumane form of euthanasia, the gas chamber. Since adopted by his loving guardian, Joe Dawyer, 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. (Charity Partner: The Pine Street Foundation).