A victim of dog fighting who almost lost her life due to her injuries has emerged victorious over the horrors of her past, winning both the collective heart of animal lovers everywhere as well as the top title at American Humane’s seventh annual Hero Dog Awards.
Found as a stray on the streets of Miami, the one-year-old Pit Bull mix could not verbalize the tale of her torment to her rescuers, but her wounded body spoke volumes about her abuse. Anemic and riddled with ticks, a map of scars covered her head, neck and back legs, and one side of her face had been torn away– all the signs pointed to the dog’s previous life as a bait dog. Abigail has already endured a series of extensive surgeries and skin grafts and will face more surgeries in the future, but thanks to the caring souls who healed her Abigail is turning her past tragedy into a triumph for animals affected by the cruel practice of dog fighting.
Abigail’s journey to recovery is being chronicled on Facebook at Bonnets for Abigail, a name given for the bonnet-like look of the bandages that have hugged her face through the healing process. Wanting Abigail to know how much they care, dog lovers around the globe have sent the pretty Pittie bonnets in her honor, and today the “couture-conscious” canine proudly wears her fact millinery as she spreads a message of forgiveness and the urgent need to end dog fighting.
Abigail represented the Emerging Hero Dog category, and was chosen the overall winner through a combination of votes form the public and a celebrity panel of judges that included Kristin Bauer van Straten, Prince Lorenzo Borghese, Carolyn Hennesy, Adrienne Maloof, Lisa Vanderpump, Lou Wegner and other animal advocates. The decision was understandably difficult, as there were other four-legged finalists being commended for their courage and compassion, including:
Guiding/Hearing Dog category winner Pierce, a guide dog for a soldier who had lost his sight due to an injury inflicted during the first Gulf War. Pierce chose Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation as his charity partner.
Dancing with the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba and actor Cameron Mathison with Guide Dog winner Pierce:
Law Enforcement/Arson Dog category winner Ice, who was seriously wounded by a suspect during an investigation of an illegal marijuana garden on public lands in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Ice, who has made a full recovery, chose Throw Away Dogs as his charity partner.
Military Dog category winner Adek, a 13-year-old German Shepherd who recently crossed Rainbow Bridge, saved lived over the course of his career as an explosive detection dog. Military Stripes is Adek’s charity partner.
Actresses Kellie Martin and Lacey Chabert with Military Dog winner Adek:
Search and Rescue Dog category winner Luca, who– although 10 years old and retired– tracked down an elderly man suffering from Alzheimer’s who was lost and had wandered into waist-high mud in the Trinity River. Luca’s charity partner is American Rescue Dog Association.
Service Dogs category winner Atlas, who acts as a calming presence for a soldier who returned from Iraq with PTSD and a traumatic brain injury from a roadside bomb. Atlas is now the “face” of The Battle Buddy Foundation, his chosen charity partner.
Therapy Dogs winner Aladdin, a dog who was emaciated, missing multiple teeth, and suffering from open wounds, two broken legs and a broken tail when he was rescued. Healed of his wounds, Aladdin has made it his mission to heal the hearts of others as a Ronald McDonald House Ambassador dog, an ambassador dog for Tito’s Vodka for Dog People campaign (which has raised more than $300,000 for rescue organizations and animals shelters), as a fund raiser for the Philadelphia Police’s Fallen Officers Fund, as a helper with Veterans and PACT for Animals, and as an ambassador for Show Your Soft Side, a nationwide campaign to end animal abuse. Aladdin chose Hand in Paw as his charity partner.
Each of the eight finalists received a $2,500 donation for their chosen American Humane Association charity partner. As this year’s Hero Dog, Abigail won an additional $5,000 for her favorite paws cause, Dogs on Deployment.
American Humane Hero Awards hosts Beth Stern and James Denton with the event’s top dogs:
Stars Salute Courageous Canines
Celebrities who are accustomed to receiving accolades were happy to take on supporting roles as they helped to shine a spotlight on the achievements of the stout-hearted Spots and presented awards to the guardians of the tail-wagging winners. Among the many animal-loving luminaries who arrived at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills to applaud the canines’ dogged dedication to making the world a better place were Daisy Fuentes, Carrie Ann Inaba, Kellie Martin, Danica McKellar, Lucky Dog star Brandon McMillan, and Home & Family co-hosts Debbie Matenopoulos and Mark Steines. The event also included pre-taped appearances by Billy Crystal and Jay Leno, and toe-tapping (and tail-wagging) tunes performed by Richard Marx.
Fans of Fidos and famous faces can cheer for all the when The 2017 American Humane Hero Dog Awards airs on The Hallmark Channel October 25th at 8 p.m. ET/PT!
Photo Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Alexx Henry Studios, LLC/ Jeremy Lee