They’ve already won top dog honors in their respective categories, and now eight four-legged finalists in the American Humane Association’s 6th annual Hero Dog Awards are trying to win the hearts of voters who will help to decide which stout-hearted Spot is named 2016 American Hero Dog.
Through August 24th you can vote once a day for your favorite Fido:
- Arson Dog: Judge, a seven-year-old Labrador retriever, has worked more than 275 fire scenes since his start in service in 2011. The number of arson fires has dropped dramatically (52.7 percent!) since Judge began working with the Allentown Fire Department, and through his role he has helped to educate the public about fire safety by taking part in over 500 programs and demonstrations. The kind-hearted canine is also a part of a pilot program to teach lifesaving information to children with autism. Judge’s charity partner is Paws with a Cause.
- Emerging Hero Dog: His ears were crudely cropped, his tail broken, and his tongue removed at the base in a cruel attempt to make him a bait dog, but no one can break Hooch the French Mastiff’s indomitable spirit. Led to a better life by Zach Snow of Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue, today Hooch is a therapy dog, working with children who have been abused, are autistic or have special needs. Hooch’s charity partner is Pets for Patriots.
- Guide/Hearing Dog: Ten-year-old Hook “…is everyone’s hero, not just mine” according to his hearing-impaired handler, who was saved from both an intruder and an oncoming train by his four-pawed pal. Speaking about her faithful companion, his handler, who works as a family therapist, stated that Hook “…is not only sensitive to my needs but to the needs of others. When he sees a patient in distress or crying he will leave our chair, go sit in the patient’s lap and lick their tears. He has brought smiles to many children, teens and adults in our practice.” Hook’s charity partner is Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind.
- Law Enforcement Dog: Retiring in 2016, ballistics/bomb dog K-9 Roo has been on the scene for at least 500 “shots fired” calls and 200 calls to investigate suspicious packages. After looking for secondary devices on Boylston Street after the Boston Marathon bombing, Roo was the only Boston Police K-9 present for the capture of Dzokhar Tsarnaev, diligently searching the yard after Tsarnaev’s capture to ensure that the terrorist had not planted any IEDs to kill responding officers. Over the years Roo has been entrusted with the task of protecting the mayor of Boston, the President of the United States and heads of state from all corners of the globe, and has guarded the public at major events such as a Red Sox game and a New Kids on the Block concert. The courageous canine has also brought smiles to the faces of children in hospitals and by performing demonstrations at community events. Roo’s charity partner is K9s4COPS.
- Military Dog: In a search for injured or live combatants and explosives in an enemy compound in Afghanistan, Layka took four rounds from an AK-47 in her shoulder. Removed from the scene by her handler, she was flown to a base where her right leg was amputated. Transported to Germany, more surgery helped to repair her shoulder and triceps. Back on American soil, Layka was moved to Lackland Airforce Base to recover from her injuries, and in August 2012 the courageous canine was medically retired. Layka’s charity partner is Combat Canines: The DDoc Foundation.
- Search and Rescue Dog: A proud member of the volunteer non-profit Maine Search & Rescue Dogs team, Kobuk located a 77-year-old diabetic suffering from dementia, who was lost in the Maine woods without food, water or her medications. Kobuk’s charity partner is National Search Dog Alliance.
- Service Dog: The first mixed breed dog to be honored with the American Kennel Club’s “Award for Canine Excellence,” Gander was saved from a high kill shelter and learned obedience training by a women’s prison program prior to his training with Freedom Service Dogs in Englewood, Colorado. Today he travels across the country with his handler/favorite human, raising awareness of PTS, veteran suicide, and the ability of service dogs to help those with both visible injuries as well as wounds we cannot see. Together Gander and his handler have helped to raise a million dollars for various veterans’ organizations, service dog charities, and individuals in need. They sponsored the first ever service dog education conference, and have inspired others through presentations at schools and community organizations. Gander’s charity parter is Canine Companions for Independence.
- Therapy Dog: Homeless, hit by a car and paralyzed, four-year-old Mango was facing her fate in a shelter when she was saved by Emma’s Cleft Palate Chihuahua Rescue. Once recuperated, Mango was put in Emma’s Rescue Reserve program, which was created to place paralyzed pups with pet parents so they could work with disabled veterans who suffer from physical disabilities. Mango not only helps humans discover that they can overcome their challenges, she also helps fellow disabled pets through Mango’s Freedom Wheels. Donations for the group’s endeavors have helped to purchase over 150 custom-built wheelchairs so animals can regain their ability to be mobile. Mango’s charity partner is Hand in Paw.
Each one of the eight finalists has won $2,500 for their preferred charity partner. The dog dubbed American Hero Dog will also receive an additional $5,000 for his or her paws cause.
Along with the pup-loving public, a panel of celebrity judges will also determine which of the deserving dogs fetches the Hero Dog Award’s top title. This year’s lineup of animal-loving luminaries who will cast their vote for America’s Hero Dog for 2016 are Adrienne Maloof, Ashlan Gorse Cousteau, Bailee Madison, Blake Koch, Victoria Stilwell, Jennifer Arnold, Jerry Means, Joanne Horowitz, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Laura Nativo, Lisa Vanderpump, Lou Wegner, Miranda Lambert, Prince Lorenzo Borghese and Shara Strand.
Tickets are currently available for the star-studded awards ceremony, which will take place on September 10th at the Beverly Hilton. Can’t make it to the awards show? You can see all the action when The Hallmark Channel airs the two-hour special The Hero Dog Awards in late October.
Photo Credit: Hero Dog Awards/ Facebook