2019 American Humane Hero Dog Awards: Beth Stern and James Denton return as hosts

September 18, 2019

James Denton and Beth Stern
James Denton and Beth Stern (Photo courtesy of Hallmark Channel)

Bestselling author Beth Stern and James Denton (“Good Witch,” “Desperate Housewives”) will return to host the 9th Annual American Humane Hero Dog Awards(R), a star-studded annual celebration honoring outstanding working dogs from around the country. The awards gala, sponsored by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation and Zoetis, will also feature Trevor Donovan (“Love, Fall & Order,” “SnowComing”), Danielle Fishel (“Girl Meets World”), Kellie Martin (“Hailey Dean Mysteries”), Debbie Matenopoulos (“Home & Family”), Cameron Mathison (“Home & Family”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Brandon McMillan (“Lucky Dog”), Barbara Niven (“Christmas in Evergreen,” “Chesapeake Shores”), Roselyn Sanchez (“A Taste of Summer,” “Grand Hotel”), Eric Winter (“A Taste of Summer,” “The Rookie”), and Larissa Wohl (“Home & Family”) as presenters. Additional celebrity participants and presenters will be announced in the coming weeks.

The 2019 American Humane Hero Dog Awards will take place on Saturday, Oct. 5 at The Beverly Hilton and will be broadcast as a two-hour special nationwide on Monday, Oct. 21 (8 pm ET/7 pm CT) on Hallmark Channel.

The evening will recognize seven canine finalists and reveal which dog will be honored with the coveted 2019 American Hero Dog title. A combination of America’s voting, which includes over one million public votes, and a panel of celebrity judges will determine which dog will be named the 2019 American Hero Dog. As previously announced, the category winners competing to be named the 2019 American Hero Dog are:

· 2019 GUIDE/HEARING HERO DOG sponsored by Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food – “Leader Dog Lady” from Hamilton, MI

· 2019 LAW ENFORCEMENT/ARSON HERO DOG sponsored by Zoetis, makers of Simparica(R) (sarolaner) – “Dax” from Libertyville, IL

· 2019 MILITARY HERO DOG sponsored by Zoetis, makers of Apoquel(R) (oclacitinib tablet) – “Sgt. Yeager” from Cary, NC

· 2019 SEARCH AND RESCUE HERO DOG (sponsored by Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food) – “Piglet” from Lancaster, CA

· 2019 SERVICE HERO DOG sponsored by Lulu’s Fund – “Alice” from Nicholasville, KY

· 2019 SHELTER HERO DOG sponsored by Hallmark Channel – “Gus” from Houston, TX

· 2019 THERAPY HERO DOG – “Jeanie” from Lake Charles, LA

Over the past nine years, nearly 10 million votes have been cast for more than a thousand dogs seeking the coveted title of American Hero Dog. The program reaches more than 1 billion people each year and draws the support and participation of top celebrity dog lovers from all over the world. Hosts, judges, award presenters, and entertainment acts have included Jay Leno, Billy Crystal, Betty White, Ariel Winter, Rebecca Romijn, Jerry O’Connell, Dean Cain, Katharine McPhee, Alison Sweeney, Whoopi Goldberg, Denise Richards, Lisa Vanderpump, Chelsea Handler, Martin Short, Jewel, Wilson Phillips, Carson Kressley, Miranda Lambert, Pauley Perrette, Kristin Chenoweth, Naomi Judd, Eric Stonestreet, Fred Willard, Danica McKellar, Bailee Madison, and many, many more.

For more information about the 2019 American Humane Hero Dog Awards, please visit www.herodogawards.org.

About American Humane

American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization, founded in 1877. For more information, please visit www.americanhumane.org.

About Lois Pope, The Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., and LIFE (Leaders in Furthering Education)

As one of America’s leading philanthropists, Lois Pope has positively impacted the lives of individuals at the local, national and international levels. She has established three separate organizations dedicated to helping those in need. These organizations are the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., Leaders In Furthering Education (LIFE), and the Disabled Veterans’ LIFE Memorial Foundation. For more than 20 years she has been the driving force behind the Lois Pope LIFE Center at the University of Miami School of Medicine, The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, and a groundbreaking new program with American Humane in Palm Beach County. Lois Pope has recently donated several Lois Pope Rescue Vehicles. Each rescue vehicle is a 50-foot long response unit, complete with a Ford F-350 truck and trailer, which is specifically designed and outfitted to provide an array of animal emergency services and cruelty responses within the region. On Oct. 5, 2014, Mrs. Pope saw the completion of a decades-long dream – the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, which was dedicated by President Obama in Washington DC. It will stand in perpetuity as a reminder to the public and legislators of the courage and sacrifices of the four million-plus living disabled veterans and all those who died before them, as well as the need to be vigilant in assuring their support and understanding the human cost of war. Through her advocacy, October 5 every year will serve as a National Day of Honor for disabled veterans. A mother and a grandmother, Lois has trained for and completed five New York City Marathons.

About Hallmark Channel

Hallmark Channel is Crown Media Family Networks’ flagship 24-hour cable television network, distributed nationwide in high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) to 88 million homes. As the country’s leading destination for quality family entertainment, Hallmark Channel delivers on the 100-year legacy of the Hallmark brand. In addition to its signature new, original movies, the network features an ambitious lineup of other new, original content, including scripted primetime series, such as “Good Witch,” “When Calls the Heart” and “Chesapeake Shores”; annual specials including “Kitten Bowl” and “Hero Dog Awards”; and a daily, two-hour lifestyle show, “Home & Family.” Additionally, Hallmark Channel is the exclusive home to world premiere presentations of the acclaimed Hallmark Hall of Fame franchise. Dedicated to helping viewers celebrate life’s special moments, Hallmark Channel also offers annual holiday programming franchises, including “Countdown to Christmas,” “Countdown to Valentine’s Day,” “Summer Nights,” “Fall Harvest” and “Winterfest.” Rounding out the network’s diverse slate are some of television’s most beloved comedies and series, including “The Golden Girls” and “Frasier.” Hallmark Cards, Inc. owns and operates Crown Media Family Networks. To visit the network website, please visit www.hallmarkchannel.com Hallmark Channel on Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube

About Zoetis

Zoetis is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 65 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines, vaccines and diagnostic products, which are complemented by biodevices, genetic tests and a range of services. Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in more than 100 countries. In 2018, the company generated annual revenue of $5.8 billion with approximately 10,000 employees. For more information, visit www.zoetis.com.

About Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food

Chicken Soup for the Soul has been providing super-premium pet food for over 15 years. The company makes dry and wet dog and cat food as well as treats that are available at independent pet specialty stores nationwide and select products are available online. The company’s mission is to help all pets eat well through its affordable pricing and its work with shelters and pets in need. A portion of all proceeds from the sale of Chicken Soup for the Soul pet food goes to Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Fill-a-Bowl… Feed-a-Soul(TM) program. The program, which was launched in 2016 in association with the American Humane, aims to provide over a million meals annually to shelter pets.

About Lulu’s Fund

Lulu’s Fund, which is part of the Timothy T. Day Foundation, was founded in 2012. Named after the Day’s beloved pug Lulu, Lulu’s Fund continues the Foundation’s ongoing commitment to supporting organizations in the animal rescue community throughout the United States. Organizations that receive support from Lulu’s Fund are primarily those that rescue abused, neglected and abandoned dogs. Their focus is to treat existing medical issues, provide spay and neuter services, place dogs in safe foster homes, and ultimately find forever homes for the animals. For more information about the Foundation, visit www.tdayfoundation.org.

2019 American Humane Hero Dog Awards: 7 finalists announced; public voting opens

July 29, 2019

The following is a press release from American Humane:

America has spoken and based on some 900,000 votes cast by animal lovers across the country and a celebrity panel of dog lovers and experts, seven remarkable canines have been named finalists in the 2019 American Humane Hero Dog Awards®, sponsored by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation and Zoetis, and broadcast nationally on Hallmark Channel.  The two-hour special, now in its ninth year, will be aired this fall on October 23 at 8 pm ET/7 pm CT in conjunction with the network’s pet adoption advocacy initiative, Hallmark Channel’s Adoption Ever After, which aims to empty shelters and end this country’s epidemic of pet homelessness.

These heroic canines each took top honors in their individual categories from a field of 360 nominees and now a combination of America’s voters and a panel of celebrity judges will determine which dog will be named the 2019 American Hero Dog. The public is invited to submit one vote per day through September 9 at www.herodogawards.org. The seven finalists will get to travel to Los Angeles to take part in the star-studded Hero Dog Awards gala on October 5 at The Beverly Hilton.

Meet the seven remarkable Hero Dog Awards finalists
(as described by their owners and handlers)

Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs category, sponsored by Zoetis, makers of Simparica® (sarolaner)

(Photo courtesy of American Humane)

“Dax” from Libertyville, IL Dax began his successful career with the Lake County (IL) Sheriff’s Office almost four years ago. He has been directly responsible for tracking and successfully apprehending over 70 suspects. Dax has also been accountable for tracking and finding dozens of missing or endangered children and adults. Dax has been used for over 100 narcotic searches resulting in the seizure of over 17 kilos of cocaine, heroin and other narcotics, hundreds of pounds of cannabis, approximately three quarters of a million dollars in currency, dozens of firearms, and vehicles. Dax’s top deployments in 2018 included tracking and locating a dangerous domestic violence offender who forced his way into a home and then battered and choked a woman until she lost consciousness; capturing a robbery suspect even after the offender struck Dax repeatedly; and, apprehending a wanted fugitive (who was allegedly armed) hiding in the attic of a home covered in fiberglass insulation. Dax saved the lives of citizens and deputies in late 2018 when he tracked a fugitive who had allegedly committed a burglary, was in the process of stealing a vehicle from its owner, and then brandished a gun at pursuing deputies. The fugitive was charged with attempted murder and several other felonies after being located by Dax. Dax’s tireless drive, dedication to training, love for police work, and incredible success stories have gained him thousands of supporters from across the country. Dax has proven to be an outstanding K9 hero!

Shelter Dogs category, sponsored by Hallmark Channel

(Photo courtesy of American Humane)

“Gus” from Houston, TX Gus was found walking aimlessly down a busy street with a head so severely swollen, you couldn’t tell he was a dog. A shoelace was tied so tightly on him that it sliced through his flesh in his neck almost to the bone. Through his recovery he gained thousands of well-wishers from all over the country and other countries, as well. He brought attention to the plight of homeless animals and how they suffer. His good nature and compliance through all his very difficult procedures and surgeries have given people hope and something to cheer for. He has been the glue for people from all over the world who look to him for some good in this seemingly uncaring climate. His innocence and sweetness transcend cultural differences and indifference to the homeless dog crisis in Houston and other cities facing the same situation. Because of him and his message, more people are fostering and adopting dogs from shelters, as well as stopping to help the stray dog that is only looking for something to eat and a gentle touch. People are taking notice and getting more involved in animal welfare. I believe Gus came to us with a specific purpose and mission. He is the tender soul who opens hearts and helps people know that there are more Gusses out there who are just as special as he is, and that we all can do something to help and not just turn away. #gusstrong #iamgus

Guide/Hearing Dogs category, sponsored by Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food

(Photo courtesy of American Humane)

“Leader Dog Lady” from Hamilton, MII’m legally blind. Leader Dog Lady is my guide dog. My world has changed so much since Lady came into my life. Leader Dog Lady is my eyes and she guides me to wherever I need to go and helps me with whatever I need to do. We go on a plane once or twice a year. I love life because I have Leader Dog Lady by my side. I’m more independent and much more confident. I see the world through Leader Dog Lady’s eyes and it’s a world where I set goals for us for the year. Friends and family always ask what Leader Dog Lady and my adventures are going to be. My life is busy because of Lady. We educate people about Leader Dogs for the Blind, go to Lions Club conventions to promote Leader Dogs for the Blind. We attend big events and fundraisers for this wonderful organization. July will be our four-year anniversary as a team. Leader Dog Lady loves to work and I feel safe crossing busy intersections, getting on a plane, or walking three miles. She goes to work with me and my co-workers love her. There is nothing we can’t do. Leader Dog Lady is so smart and she’s a very beautiful Black Lab. When out in public, people are looking at Leader Dog Lady and not asking me a ton of questions about my vision. Because of Lady I’m more social and more comfortable. I love and trust her more than people. To be a good working team, this is very important. I am nominating Leader Dog Lady for Hero Dog. She is my HERO!!

Military Dogs category, sponsored by Zoetis, makers of Apoquel® (oclacitinib tablet)

(Photo courtesy of American Humane)

“Sgt. Yeager” from Cary, NC Sergeant Yeager honorably performed combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Improvised Explosive Detection Dog with the United States Marine Corps. Sgt. Yeager has been credited with detecting the locations of dozens of explosive devices. During his three combat tours, Sgt. Yeager participated in over 100 patrols, and was tasked with clearing routes for his fellow Marines. On April 12, 2012, Sgt. Yeager suffered shrapnel wounds from an IED that caused him to lose part of his ear. He was awarded the Purple Heart for his injuries. Unfortunately, the same explosion took the life of his handler, Lance Corporal Abraham Tarwoe. The pair was virtuously trying to protect the other Marines in the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Fellow Marines attest to the unbreakable bond between Tarwoe and Sgt. Yeager. After the attack, Sgt. Yeager was transported back to the U.S. and treated for his injuries until he was stable enough to retire from the USMC. Lance Corporal Tarwoe’s widow was unable to adopt Sgt. Yeager as she would now be raising their infant son alone. Sgt. Yeager was adopted by another Marine Corps family. Today, at 12 years of age, Sgt. Yeager is beginning to show signs of aging, though his spirit is undiminished. Despite his trials and witnessing acts of terrorism, Yeager remains a sweet dog with an infinitely joyful disposition. He has settled in North Carolina with his family, where he is an ambassador for the Project K-9 Hero Foundation, which pays 100% of his medical bills from his sustained injuries.

Search and Rescue Dogs category, sponsored by Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food

(Photo courtesy of American Humane)

“Piglet” from Lancaster, CA Piglet is the best friend of Winnie The Pooh. But there’s another “Piglet” in town: an eight-year-old Catahoula Leopard Dog. This Piglet, a veteran search and rescue dog, is trained and certified to help families in arduous times. Nothing could have prepared Piglet and handler Lori Wells for the inconceivable conditions on a recent deployment. Called to aid in the aftermath of the horrific “Camp Fire” in Paradise, California, this little dog deployed to do all she could to help. Piglet provides a vital service. The value of her work in bringing answers to grieving families is immeasurable. She assists in locating people on land and in water. Once, human searchers spent seven days combing a lake with no luck. On day eight, Piglet deployed and located the subject. She helped the coroner by locating enough bones to reconstruct and positively identify the individual. Lori and Piglet donate hundreds of volunteer hours annually and depart for each call-out with enthusiasm. Traveling thousands of miles a year does not diminish Piglet’s bubbly personality and happy-go-lucky attitude. In her off hours, she loves making friends. At events she’s always a crowd-pleaser with a wagging tail, signature “smile,” and endless kisses. Perhaps this is what makes Piglet a unique search and rescue dog. Her famous namesake’s creator was said to have shared advice appropriate for those survivors who this dedicated K9 helps reunite: “If there ever comes a time when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.”

Service Dogs category, sponsored by Lulu’s Fund

(Photo courtesy of American Humane)

“Alice” from Nicholasville, KY In 2015, Antonio was a normal, playful nine-year old who loved soccer and his friends. Then, on a normal day, while riding in the back of his parents’ SUV with his younger brothers on the way to a family dinner, a man fired three to five bullets into their car and shot him in the head. Since that day Antonio has been fighting the battle of a lifetime. He spent 18 days in a coma and has endured five brain surgeries. Nearly four years later, an artificial skull covers half of Antonio’s brain, because a seizure causing a fall could be fatal. Antonio not only battles seizures, but migraines, balance issues, spells and more. In October of 2016, Antonio was paired with his service dog, Alice, from Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs in Florida. His mom, Tara, says, “Alice is a hero in our eyes, because without her, Antonio would not be able to do the simple things in life that we take for granted.” Going to school, the store, or even just a walk outside would be impossible for him. Never once has Alice failed to alert to an oncoming seizure or “spell” and she assists him with his balance issues. Alice has given Antonio the chance at a new normal life he couldn’t have had without her. She is a loyal and loving hero every day. She’s saved Antonio’s life many times. If that’s not a hero, I don’t know what is. She is his guardian angel and helps him live his new normal to the fullest extent possible.

Therapy Dogs category

(Photo courtesy of American Humane)

“Jeanie” from Lake Charles, LA This three-legged rescue went from being homeless and crippled to becoming a certified therapy dog. Jeanie was rescued from a rural area in south Louisiana when she was five months old and was adopted after a deformed front leg was removed by a local vet. Jeanie works for the Children’s Advocacy Center, where she comforts children who are questioned by detectives working on physical and sexual abuse cases, violent crimes, and even homicides. She and her owner volunteer at hospitals, schools, nursing homes, reading programs, and veterans’ homes, where Jeanie bonds with fellow amputees. Jeanie attends counseling sessions with amputees and children’s grief therapy groups. She comforts students during finals week and visits schools’ special education classes. Jeanie spent a day with traumatized elementary students who witnessed a shooting in their classroom. She helped an apprehensive child speak to officers after witnessing a murder/suicide. A depressed veterans’ home resident who suffered with dementia was joyful and content during a visit with Jeanie. In cases like these, Jeanie’s presence eases stress levels and provides a calm and joyful diversion. Jeanie deserves to be the American Hero Dog because she gives love and comfort to those who need it most, especially frightened and traumatized children. She hopes to inspire other counseling, advocacy and law enforcement agencies to consider the benefits of therapy dogs like her.

Over the past nine years, nearly 10 million votes have been cast for more than a thousand dogs seeking the coveted title of American Hero Dog. The program reaches more than 1 billion people each year and draws the support and participation of top celebrity dog lovers from all over the world. Hosts, judges, award presenters, and entertainment acts have included Jay Leno, Billy Crystal, Betty White, Ariel Winter, Rebecca Romijn, Jerry O’Connell, Dean Cain, James Denton, Beth Stern, Katharine McPhee, Alison Sweeney, Whoopi Goldberg, Denise Richards, Lisa Vanderpump, Chelsea Handler, Martin Short, Jewel, Wilson Phillips, Carson Kressley, Miranda Lambert, Pauley Perrette, Kristin Chenoweth, Naomi Judd, Eric Stonestreet, Fred Willard, Danica McKellar, Bailee Madison, and many, many more.

“The American Humane Hero Dog Awards celebrate the tremendously important roles dogs play in our lives,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane president and CEO. “The American public and our special judging panel now have an extraordinarily tough task ahead of them in determining who our top dog will be because all are worthy winners.”

“The Hero Dog Awards celebrate America’s often unsung heroes,” said philanthropist and Platinum Presenting Sponsor Lois Pope. “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.”

“Animals are our best friends, enriching, improving, and sometimes even saving our lives,” said Tara Bidgood, DVM, PhD, DACVCP, executive director, Zoetis Petcare Veterinary Professional Services. “As an organization dedicated to improving and saving the lives of those best friends, we are proud to serve as the corporate sponsor of the 2019 American Humane Hero Dog Awards.”

“Hallmark Channel is proud to have the American Humane Hero Dog Awards serve as the focal point of our Adoption Ever After initiative,” said Bill Abbott, president and CEO of Crown Media Family Networks. “Adoption Ever After is our on- and off-air advocacy and awareness initiative designed to celebrate the joy pets bring to our lives, shine a spotlight on the wonderful animals in shelters across the country, and promote adoption.”

For more information about the 2019 American Humane Hero Dog Awards®, and to vote daily in the contest, please visit www.herodogawards.org. For more information on sponsorship opportunities email Mari Harner at marih@americanhumane.org  or call 1-800-227-4645.

About American Humane
American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization, founded in 1877. For more information, please visit www.americanhumane.org.

About Lois Pope, The Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., and LIFE (Leaders in Furthering Education)
As one of America’s leading philanthropists, Lois Pope has positively impacted the lives of individuals at the local, national and international levels.  She has established three separate organizations dedicated to helping those in need.  These organizations are the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., Leaders In Furthering Education (LIFE), and the Disabled Veterans’ LIFE Memorial Foundation.  For more than 20 years she has been the driving force behind the Lois Pope LIFE Center at the University of Miami School of Medicine, The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, and a groundbreaking new program with American Humane in Palm Beach County. Lois Pope has recently donated several Lois Pope Rescue Vehicles. Each rescue vehicle is a 50-foot long response unit, complete with a Ford F-350 truck and trailer, which is specifically designed and outfitted to provide an array of animal emergency services and cruelty responses within the region.

On Oct. 5, 2014, Mrs. Pope saw the completion of a decades-long dream – the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, which was dedicated by President Obama in Washington DC.  It will stand in perpetuity as a reminder to the public and legislators of the courage and sacrifices of the four million-plus living disabled veterans and all those who died before them, as well as the need to be vigilant in assuring their support and understanding the human cost of war.  Through her advocacy, October 5 every year will serve as a National Day of Honor for disabled veterans.

A mother and a grandmother, Lois has trained for and completed five New York City Marathons.

About Hallmark Channel
Hallmark Channel is Crown Media Family Networks’ flagship 24-hour cable television network, distributed nationwide in high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) to 88 million homes.  As the country’s leading destination for quality family entertainment, Hallmark Channel delivers on the 100-year legacy of the Hallmark brand.  In addition to its signature new, original movies, the network features an ambitious lineup of other new, original content, including scripted primetime series, such as “Good Witch,” “When Calls the Heart” and “Chesapeake Shores“; annual specials including “Kitten Bowl” and “Hero Dog Awards”; and a daily, two-hour lifestyle show, “Home & Family.”  Additionally, Hallmark Channel is the exclusive home to world premiere presentations of the acclaimed Hallmark Hall of Fame franchise.  Dedicated to helping viewers celebrate life’s special moments, Hallmark Channel also offers annual holiday programming franchises, including “Countdown to Christmas,” “Countdown to Valentine’s Day,” “Summer Nights,” “Fall Harvest” and “Winterfest.”  Rounding out the network’s diverse slate are some of television’s most beloved comedies and series, including “The Golden Girls” and “Frasier.”

Hallmark Cards, Inc. owns and operates Crown Media Family Networks.

For more information, please visit www.crownmediapress.com
To visit the network website, please visit www.hallmarkchannel.com
Hallmark Channel on Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube

About Zoetis
Zoetis is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 65 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines, vaccines and diagnostic products, which are complemented by biodevices, genetic tests and a range of services. Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in more than 100 countries. In 2018, the company generated annual revenue of $5.8 billion with approximately 10,000 employees. For more information, visit www.zoetis.com.

About Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food
Chicken Soup for the Soul has been providing super-premium pet food for over 15 years. The company makes dry and wet dog and cat food as well as treats that are available at independent pet specialty stores nationwide and select products are available online. The company’s mission is to help all pets eat well through its affordable pricing and its work with shelters and pets in need. A portion of all proceeds from the sale of Chicken Soup for the Soul pet food goes to Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Fill-a-Bowl… Feed-a-Soul™ program. The program, which was launched in 2016 in association with the American Humane, aims to provide over a million meals annually to shelter pets.

About Lulu’s Fund
Lulu’s Fund, which is part of the Timothy T. Day Foundation, was founded in 2012. Named after the Day’s beloved pug Lulu, Lulu’s Fund continues the Foundation’s ongoing commitment to supporting organizations in the animal rescue community throughout the United States. Organizations that receive support from Lulu’s Fund are primarily those that rescue abused, neglected and abandoned dogs. Their focus is to treat existing medical issues, provide spay and neuter services, place dogs in safe foster homes, and ultimately find forever homes for the animals. For more information about the Foundation, visit www.tdayfoundation.org.

2018 American Humane Hero Dog Awards: Golden retriever Chi Chi wins top prize; Hallmark Channel to televise awards

September 30, 2018

American Humane Hero Dog Awards
Therapy Dog of the Year: Chi Chi (Photo courtesy of American Humane Hero Dog Awards)

The following is a press release from American Humane:

Following more than a million votes by the American public and the opinions of an expert panel of celebrity animal lovers and dog experts, “Chi Chi,” a four-year-old Golden Retriever from Phoenix, Arizona has been named this year’s most heroic dog, besting 265 other brave canines and capturing the top title of “American Hero Dog” at the 2018 American Humane Hero Dog Awards®. The eighth annual Hero Dogs Awards is sponsored by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc. and Zoetis Petcare (a U.S. business unit of Zoetis) and will be broadcast nationally on Hallmark Channel October 24 at 8:00 pm ET/PT.

Chi Chi is a quadruple amputee who is inspiring people all over the world. She was left for dead in South Korea where she was found in a garbage bag with her legs bound, worn to the bone, and already necrotized. The only way to save her life was to amputate portions of all four of her legs. When she first arrived at our home, she was afraid of people, but with time and lots of love and grace, she realized that she is safe and no one will ever hurt her again. She forgave and decided to trust people again. She quickly adapted to her first set of custom prosthetics and now loves spending her days as a certified therapy dog sharing her joy and cheerful demeanor with people of all ages. Recently, she had surgery to remove cancer tumors, so she is a cancer survivor. When people meet Chi Chi, they are inspired by her courage, perseverance, ability to overcome adversity and her never-give-up attitude. She exemplifies resilience and forgiveness, and openly shares her love and compassion in abundance. Her sweet-tempered and gentle spirit opens people’s hearts and her perceptive spirit senses where her love is needed. When people hear Chi Chi’s story and experience her attitude of joy, they are often inspired to face their challenges with renewed courage and a fresh perspective. Chi Chi brings joy everywhere she goes and her optimism and smile spreads quickly to others. She positively impacts thousands of people all over the world via her online therapy work through her social media account.

For her extraordinary bravery and good works, Chi Chi won the American Humane Hero Dog Awards’ “Therapy Dog” category. This year, the Therapy Dog category is sponsored by Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food, the official pet food sponsor of the 2018 American Humane Hero Dog Awards. We thank them for helping draw attention to Chi Chi’s story and spotlighting the remarkable ways dogs are capable of forgiveness and moving on to do good things for others even when they themselves were in need of help.

A Galaxy of Stars Honors Hero Dogs

The sold-out, star-studded awards honoring America’s most courageous canines were hosted at the Beverly Hilton Hotel last night by television and film star James Denton and model and animal advocate Beth Stern, accompanied by a galaxy of celebrity stars and presenters including TV star Erik Estrada; actress Danielle Fishel; TV and film personality Carrie Ann Inaba; actress Bailee Madison; TV actress Kellie Martin; TV host Debbie Matenopoulos; TV host Cameron Mathison; TV host and animal trainer Brandon McMillan; actress Barbara Niven, actress Denise Richards; actress Rebecca Romijn; TV host and actress Alison Sweeney; “Modern Family” actress Ariel Winter; and TV actress Larissa Wohl. “Lois and Clark” star Dean Cain brought his super powers in the form of heroic voiceovers of the individual finalists’ tribute videos.

Wildlife conservationist and popular TV personality Jack Hanna provided a delightful pre-taped video congratulating all the dogs and urging everyone to support the animals of the earth. Before the show, the audience was treated to the artistry of The Alex Donner Band, the Nunziata brothers, and a special appearance by Hallmark Channel’s Goodwill Ambassador Happy the Dog.

The Hero Dog Awards were created to celebrate the powerful relationship between dogs and people and recognize extraordinary acts of heroism performed by ordinary dogs. The event will be broadcast nationwide by Hallmark Channel on October 24 at 8 pm ET/PT, 7 pm Central. The program will air as part of Hallmark Channel’s Pet Project, the network’s cross-platform advocacy campaign designed to celebrate the joy and enrichment animals bring to our lives. During American Humane’s annual “Adopt-a-Dog Month” this October, the organization is teaming up with Hallmark Channel’s “Adoption Ever After” campaign to help get more of the millions of beautiful animals left in shelters each year into forever homes. All throughout the month, animal lovers can go to www.AmericanHumane.org to find adoptable dogs in your area, tips on preparing their home for a new four-legged companion, and other vital information, social media campaigns and blogs to help build a better world for our best friends.

“The American Humane Hero Dog Awards were created to honor some of the most extraordinary heroes the world has ever known, the very best of our best friends,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization. “These heroic canines have gone above and beyond the call of duty, saving lives on the battlefield, comforting the ill, aged and afflicted, bringing hope to those who have lost it, and reminding us of the powerful, age-old bond between animals and people. All seven category winners tonight exemplify what it means to be a hero, and we hope that their stories – and Chi Chi’s – will inspire people to value our animal friends and to recognize and honor how much they do for us every day.”

“It is an honor to support an effort to recognize the best of our ‘best friends,'” said philanthropist Lois Pope, who has been the awards’ presenting sponsor for seven years. “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 the Hero Dog Awards campaign. Through this national forum we have helped educate America about the lifesaving, life-affirming work of our nation’s canine heroes.”

The winner is chosen through a combination of public votes and voting by a panel of animal advocates and celebrity judges including Michelle Beadle, Prince Lorenzo BorgheseKristin ChenowethJamie Chung, Philippe and Ashlan Gorse Cousteau, Erik EstradaDanielle FishelCarolyn HennesyCarson KressleyMiranda LambertBailee MadisonAdrienne Maloof, Agent Jerry MeansLaura Nativo, Carlos and Alexa PenaVega, Mark Steines, and Lisa Vanderpump.

All Finalists Are Winners

Chi Chi was the one chosen as 2018 American Hero Dog, but all seven finalists were winners in their categories, and we salute them for their courage, service and compassion. Here are their official nominations, as told by their handlers and owners:

Law Enforcement/Arson Dog of the Year (category sponsored by K-9 Courage from Zoetis Petcare)

Law Enforcement_Arson Dog of the Year: K-9 Flash (Photo courtesy of American Humane Hero Dog Awards)

K-9 Flash (Detroit, MI) – K-9 Flash was found in an animal shelter when she was only 9 months old. She was picked up on the streets of Everett, Washington, with no home, no name, and no family. We were starting a Narcotics K-9 course at the Washington State Patrol Academy in Sept of 2005, when we were evaluating dogs in shelters who possess a good hunt, air scent, retrieve, and prey drive. Flash excelled in all of those areas, so we took a chance on her and included her in the class just one day before she was to be euthanized. Once she had her chance, Flash excelled in Narcotics detection and graduated as the only dog to score 100 percent on her certification. She was assigned as the first Narcotics K-9 on Patrol at the Yakima Police Department while assisting two DEA Narcotics Task Force Teams, Regional SWAT Team, and the Patrol Division. K-9 Flash had over 3,000 deployments in her career with over 2,200 narcotics-related finds and seizures. When Flash retired in 2013, she was just getting started. Because of her fortitude and her will to be successful, she inspired her handler to start a national nonprofit to take care of retired K-9 heroes like her with medical assistance, food, and end-of-duty services. Most people don’t know that when K-9 heroes like Flash retire they lose all funding from the agencies they served. Therefore in 2016, K-9 Flash was the sole inspiration for the start of Project K-9 Hero. She now has her own children’s book and travels the nation reading it at schools and inspiring children.

Emerging Hero Dog of the Year

Emerging Hero Dog of the Year: Willow (Photo courtesy of American Humane Hero Dog Awards)

Willow (Las Vegas, NV) – Willow is a survivor of the South Korean dog meat trade. His owners turned him in to the slaughterhouse because he was old. Neglected, with cut ears, matted hair, a mouth of bad teeth and an infected tongue, he was allowed to be rescued because he “didn’t offer much meat.” He was one of the lucky ones. Arriving in September of 2016, Willow is spreading awareness on social media and making public appearances to educate people on animal welfare topics (including the dog and cat meat trade) through non-traumatic and non-graphic ways, and presenting resources to help more of his four-legged friends. Willow travels internationally in foamboard form and poses with trade survivors. His campaign, “I Am Willow, I Am Not Food” raises flight funds for dogs. He is the mascot for a newly created Animal Rights Club at a local school, helping students advocate for change in the classroom and aiding their school in becoming the first vegan option cafeteria in the State. We are developing educational tools to use in an animal welfare speaking series for schools and conferences. He is also getting therapy dog certification to spread awareness to disabled children through animal-related books/reading programs. Willow is a voice and inspirational leader for millions of animals, not just those subjected to the dog and cat meat trade. People listen, learn and respond to Willow. He is a vehicle for raising awareness. Willow is an EMERGING HERO who will grow that status into something that makes a lifelong paw print in the animal welfare world.

Guide/Hearing Dog of the Year

Guide/Hearing Dog of the Year: Frances (Photo courtesy of American Humane Hero Dog Awards)

Frances (Staten Island, NY) – At the age of 32, I lost my eyesight from a rare complication after battling breast cancer. Over the next six months, I would have to relearn everything from crossing the street to sorting laundry. Then, the universe threw me the ultimate curveball – I found out I was pregnant! When people asked me how I planned on traveling with my baby, I responded, “I’m going to get a guide dog.” In September of 2016, Guiding Eyes for the Blind matched with me with Frances, a female yellow Labrador. Since then, “Franny” and I have become partners in both parenting and advocacy work for visually impaired parents. Now the mother of two daughters, I depend on Frances to help guide me to pre-school, doctor’s appointments and extracurricular activities. When “Franny” is not helping me meet the demands of motherhood, she accompanies me to help educate kids through our Visually Impaired Education Program (VIEP). Aimed at grades K-2, VIEP’s mission is to engage school-aged children through classroom interaction with the blind/visually impaired community; helping diminish stereotypes associated with blindness. Frances attends every presentation, a beautiful reminder about the important work of guide dogs. I believe Frances deserves to be the American Hero Guide Dog because her partnership allows me to be the woman I want to be. She helps me juggle all that comes with being a working mom while educating our community about living with vision loss.

Military Dog of the Year (category sponsored by K-9 Courage from Zoetis Petcare)

Military Dog of the Year: Sergeant. Fieldy (Photo courtesy of American Humane Hero Dog Awards)

Sergeant Fieldy (McAllen, TX) – Sgt. Fieldy is an 11-year-old Black Lab with the heart and energy of a 3-year-old who served in the U.S. Marine Corps and retired in August 2014. I am his handler and I met him in South Carolina as part of a group of specialized units formed to combat the number-one threat in Afghanistan: Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). We were deployed to Afghanistanin February 2011. We both experienced first-hand the effects of IEDs when a vehicle struck a pressure plate during a patrol and injured the occupants. Knowing that we were both targets for insurgent observers, we worked tirelessly to detect explosives. He alerted me and found yet another IED, a 60-pound plastic barrel containing homemade explosives. During our deployment, Sgt. Fieldy found several more IEDs and their components, which helped save countless lives during our tour. After his deployment, he was taken back for refitting and training, and I returned home. I later found out that Sgt. Fieldy deployed two more times to Afghanistan and continued to find more IEDs and save many more lives. After serving four tours, on Aug. 7, 2014, I was finally able to adopt him. Since then he has very much enjoyed his retirement. In Nov. 2014 he participated in the Veterans Day Parade in New York City. And in July 2016, he was honored with the K-9 Medal of Courage award on Capitol Hill, and has been recognized for his bravery and courageous sacrifice on several other occasions. He has made a life-changing impact on my life. He is my hero!

Search and Rescue Dog of the Year

Search and Rescue Dog of the Year: Ruby (Photo courtesy of American Humane Hero Dog Awards)

Ruby (East Greenwich, RI) – In October of 2017, a teenage boy went missing from his home in the town of Gloucester. After 36 hours and failed attempts to find him, the Gloucester Police Department requested the services of the Rhode Island State Police K-9 Division. K-9 Ruby and I answered the call and responded to the scene along with other K-9 teams. As part of normal protocol, I briefly interviewed the boy’s mother. During the conversation, it was revealed that the boy’s mother had volunteered her services working with Ruby six years ago at the RISPCA and fostered her each time she was returned. After hours of searching, K-9 Ruby and I were ultimately successful in finding the missing teenager, but unfortunately, he was found in grave medical condition. The state police and EMS services removed the boy from the scene and transported him to a local hospital where he made a full recovery. If it were not for the effort of the state police and especially K-9 Ruby, that young boy’s life may have been lost. You can think what you may, but I believe that was Ruby’s way of saying thank you to the boy’s mother for taking care of her during her rough beginning. Ruby was given a chance at life and ended up saving a life. With the efforts of two organizations (RISP and RISPCA) and a handful of amazing and dedicated people, great things can happen. Ruby will also be featured in a soon-to-be-released award-winning film, which documents her rescue, her rigorous training to become a certified Search & Rescue K9, and accompanies her on her first official searches with her handler, Daniel O’Neil.

Service Dog of the Year (category sponsored by Modern Dog magazine)

Service Dog of the Year: Roxy (Photo courtesy of American Humane Hero Dog Awards)

Roxy (Canton, NC) – Hello, everyone. My name is Justin. I am a disabled veteran from the Iraq war. I was deployed to Iraq as a U.S. Army infantry soldier. While in Baghdad during my 2006 deployment, I was blown up by an IED. I now suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Once I was out of the military, I received Roxy as a fully trained PTS Service Dog from Off Leash K9 Training in Asheville, North Carolina. Roxy is trained in basic and advanced obedience, with three Canine Good Citizenship Awards. Roxy has been trained to indicate on my anxiety, so she can help alert me before the PTS gets out of control. She helps provide a distraction, so I can concentrate on something else besides the PTS. She helps me on a daily basis with simple life tasks. If it wasn’t for her showing me that it’s okay to be in society, I probably wouldn’t be here today. I take Roxy to our local V.A. hospital to help share Roxy’s ability with other Veterans. We enjoy bringing happiness and joy to the veterans of the V.A. Most people have never seen a pit bull as a service dog, but once they meet Roxy and see what she does, you can tell how much they really enjoy meeting her. We really hope Roxy can be the next top Hero Dog, to help continue to show the world that pit bulls are good dogs, but also amazing service dogs. We appreciate your time in reading our story. Please help Roxy get to the top! Thank you for your support. God bless our Troops and our veterans until they all come home.

Each of the seven finalists received $2,500 to be donated to one of American Humane’s charity partners. Chi Chi won an additional $5,000 for her charity, Pet Partners. In this way, more heroes may be nurtured.

Efforts Featured to Help Repay Our Best Friends and Those Who Protect Our Country

During the awards, two special video packages were presented about efforts by American Humane to help repay the debt we owe mankind’s best friend and those who protect our country. The first featured American Humane’s “Pups4Patriots” program, a national effort supported by Hallmark Channel, that rescues abandoned animals in need of forever homes and trains them to become lifesaving service dogs for veterans coping with Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury. Saving lives at both ends of the leash, the Pups4Patriots program seeks to help stem the tide of pet euthanasia and veteran suicide. Following the presentation, Dr. Ganzert led the audience in an ovation to recognize and honor the 130 veterans and their families in the audience. A second video featured a recent effort to assist more of the animals around the country who desperately require medical care after being abandoned or whose owners cannot afford to have them treated. In August, American Humane rallied an army of volunteers to the help animals at St. Landry Parish Animal Shelter in Louisiana.  Seven veterinarians, including Dr. Mike McFarland of Zoetis Petcare and the renowned Dr. Marty Becker, as well as more than 50 veterinary and veterinary nursing students volunteered their time for this project. Zoetis Petcare provided all the medicines and supplies needed to treat 230 dogs, 45 cats, and six horses. Not only did their efforts help prepare these animals for adoption locally; several were flown to Los Angeles for the Hero Dog Awards, where they were presented for adoption by an enthusiastic audience all too willing to take them home.

Heroes Who Save and Keep Our Hero Pets Healthy All Year Round Honored

Behind every hero pet is a hero vet or vet tech.  Each year at the Hero Dog Awards, American Humane also announced the winners of its Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Nurse Awards. Dr. David Chico from Albany, New York, as named 2018’s American Hero Veterinarian, and Tammy Boland of Oceanport, New Jersey was declared 2018’s American Hero Veterinary Nurse.

“To us, all vets and vet techs are heroes and this is why we want to honor the best of the best in their fields,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane president and CEO. “Indeed, Dr. Chico and Ms. Boland are tremendous animal welfare advocates and we are so proud to learn of their laudable accomplishments aiding the animals in need in their communities and beyond. And our thanks go out to our friends at Zoetis Petcare for sponsoring this special national campaign because we know how committed they are to recognizing the achievements of the veterinary community.”

“Zoetis Petcare is honored to sponsor these awards that recognize the extraordinary veterinarians and veterinary nurses who help keep the pets in our lives happy and healthy, strengthening the powerful human-animal bond between pets and the families who love them,” said J. Michael McFarland, executive director of Zoetis Petcare marketing. “Dr. Chico and Tammy have raised the bar for other veterinary professionals in the field through their inspiring service and compassionate care for animals.”

Hero Dog Awards Host and Animal Advocate Beth Stern Wins Surprise Award

Longtime Hero Dog Awards co-host and animal advocate Beth Stern was surprised with Hallmark’s “Adoption Ever After” for her work in helping thousands of shelter animals find forever homes. The award, which brought an ovation from the 700+ guests at the Hero Dog Awards gala, was presented by Real Housewives of New York’s Carole Radziwill.
                                                                

And Thanks to Sponsors

Finally, American Humane honored the many generous sponsors who support the Hero Dog Awards and made them possible. “We thank the animals, their dedicated owners and handlers, and the generous sponsors who have helped bring about that recognition,” said Dr. Ganzert. “Thank you to Lois Pope and the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation; Hallmark Channel; Zoetis Petcare, the Hero Dog Awards corporate sponsor and sponsor of the Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Nurse Awards; Military Dog sponsor K-9 Courage Program from Zoetis Petcare; Law Enforcement/Arson Dog sponsor K-9 Courage Program from Zoetis Petcare; Emerging Hero Dog sponsor, the maker of NexGard® (afoxolaner) Chewables; Service Dog sponsor Modern Dog Magazine; and Therapy Dog sponsor Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food, the official pet food of the 2018 Hero Dog Awards. Dogs may be our best friends, but these caring organizations are theirs.”

About American Humane
American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization, founded in 1877. For more information, please visit www.americanhumane.org.

About Lois Pope, The Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., and LIFE (Leaders in Furthering Education)
As one of America’s leading philanthropists, Lois Pope has positively impacted the lives of individuals at the local, national and international levels. She has established three separate organizations dedicated to helping those in need. These organizations are the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., Leaders In Furthering Education (LIFE), and the Disabled Veterans’ LIFE Memorial Foundation.  For more than 20 years she has been the driving force behind the Lois Pope LIFE Center at the University of Miami School of Medicine, The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, and a groundbreaking new program with American Humane in Palm Beach County. Lois Pope has recently donated several Lois Pope Rescue Vehicles. Each rescue vehicle is a 50-foot long response unit, complete with a Ford F-350 truck and trailer, which is specifically designed and outfitted to provide an array of animal emergency services and cruelty responses within the region.

On October 5, 2014, Mrs. Pope saw the completion of a decades-long dream – the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, which was dedicated by President Obama in Washington DC.  It will stand in perpetuity as a reminder to the public and legislators of the courage and sacrifices of the four million-plus living disabled veterans and all those who died before them, as well as the need to be vigilant in assuring their support and understanding the human cost of war.  Through her advocacy, October 5 every year will serve as a National Day of Honor for disabled veterans.

A mother and a grandmother, Lois has trained for and completed five New York City Marathons.

About Hallmark Channel
Hallmark Channel is Crown Media Family Networks’ flagship 24-hour cable television network, distributed nationwide in high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) to 88 million homes. As the country’s leading destination for quality family entertainment, Hallmark Channel delivers on the 100-year legacy of the Hallmark brand. In addition to its signature new, original movies, the network features an ambitious lineup of other new, original content, including scripted primetime series, such as “Good Witch,” “When Calls the Heart” and “Chesapeake Shores“; annual specials including “Kitten Bowl” and “Hero Dog Awards”; and a daily, two-hour lifestyle show, “Home & Family.”  Additionally, Hallmark Channel is the exclusive home to world premiere presentations of the acclaimed Hallmark Hall of Fame franchise. Dedicated to helping viewers celebrate life’s special moments, Hallmark Channel also offers annual holiday programming franchises, including “Countdown to Christmas,” “Countdown to Valentine’s Day,” “Summer Nights,” “Fall Harvest” and “Winterfest.” Rounding out the network’s diverse slate are some of television’s most beloved comedies and series, including “The Golden Girls” and “Frasier.”

Hallmark Cards, Inc. owns and operates Crown Media Family Networks.
To visit the network website, please visit www.hallmarkchannel.com 
Hallmark Channel on Social Media: FacebookTwitterPinterestYouTube

About Zoetis
Zoetis is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 60 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products, genetic tests, biodevices and a range of services. Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in more than 100 countries. In 2017, the company generated annual revenue of $5.3 billion with approximately 9,000 employees. For more information, visit www.zoetis.com.

About Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food
Chicken Soup for the Soul understands the unique relationship between people and pets. Health conscious consumers have been feeding their cats and dogs Chicken Soup for the Soul wholesome and balanced, super premium pet food for over 15 years. Holistic in nature, the entire line of products is made from only the finest ingredients: real meats, fruits, vegetables and herbs. With no added corn, wheat, soy, artificial coloring, flavoring or preservatives, Chicken Soup for the Soul pet food is inspired by your love for pets, and promotes overall health and well-being for dogs and cats. The products are proudly made in the USA, and feature rescued shelter pets on every bag. Core and grain-free formulas and a line of treats are available in independent pet specialty stores nationwide and online.

A portion of all proceeds from the sale of Chicken Soup for the Soul pet food goes to help shelters and pets in need through Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Fill-a-Bowl … Feed-a-Soul™ program. The program, which was launched in association with the American Humane, aims to provide over a million meals to shelter pets annually. www.chickensouppets.com.

About Modern Dog magazine
Modern Dog — “the best dog magazine ever” and the #1 dog publication in North America — is a must-read for dog lovers. Your source for the best ideas and solutions for life with dogs, Modern Dog features training tips, insight into your dog’s behavior, the best gear, wellness, rescue, DIY how-tos, contests and more! A large part of Modern Dog’s mission is to support rescue and the organizations that work tirelessly to help dogs in need. Find Modern Dog online — www.moderndogmagazine.com — on newsstands across North America, and on all major social platforms. Modern Dog, your guide to a better bond with your dog!

2017 American Humane Hero Dog Awards announces deadlines

January 25, 2017

American Humane has announced the official start of the 2017 American Humane Hero Dog Awards, sponsored by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation and broadcast on September 16 as a two-hour special on Hallmark Channel. The seventh annual event identifies and honors America’s bravest heroes on both ends of the leash.

According to a press release, key dates for the 2017 American Humane Hero Dog Awards contest include:

  • Nominations: January 25 to March 8
  • 1st Round Voting: March 29 to May 3
  • 2nd Round Voting: May 17 to June 28
  • 3rd Round Voting: July 12 to August 30
  • American Humane Hero Dog Awards event at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California: September 16

Dog owners across the country are invited to visit  http://www.herodogawards.org and nominate their heroic hound in one of eight categories. The top dog in each category will be flown to the star-studded, red-carpet awards gala hosted by Beth Stern and James Denton at the Beverly Hilton. One of the category winners will be unveiled as the American Hero Dog of the year.

The eight categories for 2017 are:

  • Law Enforcement Dogs, sponsored by the K-9 Courage Program from Zoetis
  • Military Dogs, sponsored by the K-9 Courage Program from Zoetis and the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation
  • Therapy Dogs
  • Service Dogs, sponsored by Modern Dog magazine
  • Emerging Hero Dogs, a category that pays tribute to ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things
  • Arson Dogs
  • Search and Rescue Dogs
  • Guide/Hearing Dogs

Following the nominations period, which ends on March 8, two dozen semifinalists (the top three in each category) will be chosen in a first round of voting by celebrity judges and the public. The second round, featuring a combination of public and celebrity voting, will narrow the field to eight category finalists who will then vie for the title of 2017 American Hero Dog.

Winners in each category will earn $2,500 for a designated charity partner and the overall winner’s charity partner will win an additional $5,000. Each charity partner is dedicated to celebrating the role of working dogs in our lives, and like American Humane, celebrates the importance of the human-animal bond.

The Hero Dog Awards once again will feature a second campaign – the American Humane Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards, sponsored by Zoetis. As of February 2, 2017, pet owners and animal lovers across America were invited to nominate their favorite animal caretakers in these two fields, with each to be honored at the Hero Dog Awards event on September 16.