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Dog day afternoon on The Hill: American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards® winners visit Capitol Hill at humane bond caucus celebration

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Nation’s Eight Most Courageous Canines Address Members of Congress on Important Issues Affecting Millions of People…and America’s Dogs

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 21, 2015 – It was a dog day afternoon in the halls of Congress on Wednesday October 21 as America’s eight most heroic hounds and their brave handlers on the other end of the leash addressed members of Congress and the international media about several important issues affecting the lives of millions of humans and our best friends. “Hero Dogs on the Hill: A Celebration of Working Dogs in Our Lives,” hosted by the new congressional Humane Bond Caucus, featured the eight winners of the 2015 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards®. 

Each dog won in one of eight special categories with top honors and the title of 2015 American Hero Dog going to Harley, a little Chihuahua with a big heart. For 10 years, this poor dog suffered unspeakable cruelty in a puppy mill before he was rescued. 

Congress and the American public met these heroic hounds for the first time, including: 2015 American Hero Dog and Emerging Hero Dog of the Year Harley; Arson Dog of the Year Glory who investigates deadly arson fires and helps put criminals behind bars; Guide/Hearing Dog of the Year Chara who trained herself to detect her handler’s impending myoclonic dystonic attacks; Law Enforcement Dog of the Year Dax who saved the life of police Sgt. Chris Alberini; Military Dog of the Year Rambo who conducted 622 searches and had a limb amputated; Search and Rescue Dog of the Year Glory, the only certified S&R dog to track pets; Service Dog of the Year Axel, who helps his handler Marine Capt. Jason Haag cope with the hidden wounds of war; and Therapy Dog of the Year Hudson the Railroad Puppy, who was severely abused but now works to comfort the young, the sick, and the aged.

And because behind every hero pet is a hero vet or hero vet tech, the event also proudly featured the winners of the 2015 American Humane Association Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards, sponsored by Zoetis. Dr. Annette Sysel and Julie Carlson talked about their important work to help animals in need. They were introduced by “America’s Veterinarian” and American Humane Association board member Dr. Marty Becker. 

For five years the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards have been broadcast nationally on Hallmark Channel, part of the Crown Media Family Networks. Michelle Vicary, Executive Vice President of Programming and Network Publicity at Crown Media Family Networks spoke about the importance of bringing these heroic stories to millions of viewers. 

“It was such an honor to be on Capitol Hill with these amazing dogs today,” said Vicary. “Each one of them is truly a hero and the Hero Dog Awards on Hallmark Channel allows us to pay tribute to them and spotlight their remarkable stories.” 

Earlier this summer, Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12) and Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) founded and launched the new Humane Bond Caucus, which is devoted to bringing a common-sense, scientific and rational dialogue to the issues surrounding the physical, emotional and even medical connections between humans and animals.

“The mission of this caucus is to strengthen the humane bond between people and animals in working environments, our homes, hospitals, educational settings, the wild, and agriculture,” said Congressman Bilirakis. “The bond with animals has defined humanity for thousands of years. Today’s event on Capitol Hill showed why it’s so important to celebrate this bond.”

“I want to thank all who came out to today to support humankind's best friends and hear the stories of some remarkable American hero dogs who have protected our troops and comforted our veterans, children, and the elderly,” said Congressman Cuellar. “It's important that we celebrate and honor these hero dogs for all the work they do to keep us safe. Today I had the privilege to meet a number of these American hero dogs, including Sgt. Rambo, a hero dog who, along with his adoptive mother, hails from Converse, Texas in my congressional district.” 

“We are very grateful to Congressman Bilirakis and Congressman Cuellar for championing the power of the humane bond on Capitol Hill,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Association’s president and CEO. American Humane Association is so proud that you founded the Humane Bond Caucus this year, and we will fully support you along the way. And special thanks to our friends at Crown Media Family Networks, who have been tremendous partners and have helped ensure the success of the Hero Dog Awards over the years. We created the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards to honor our best friends and pay tribute to their heroic handlers on the other end of the leash, and we are proud that this year’s amazing class of winners was able to bring their stories to our nation’s lawmakers and soon the American public will have the chance to see these heroic ‘tails’ come to life on national television.”

“There really is no stronger example of the connection between humans and animals than the one we share with dogs,” said American Humane Association board chair John Payne during the event’s closing address. “Without dogs, we would not be nearly as safe or healthy, and certainly we would not be as happy. Ask anyone here, that’s why it is so important we recognize their value. You can catch all of these dogs’ stories next Friday night, October 30th on Hallmark Channel. I hope you enjoy the show.”

The American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards are presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation and will be broadcast nationally on Hallmark Channel on October 30 at 8 pm ET/PT, 7 pm Central. The awards will also be available digitally to subscribers via www.HallmarkChannel.com

About American Humane Association

American Humane Association is the country’s first national humane organization and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Since 1877, American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting our most vulnerable from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Today we’re also leading the way in understanding the human-animal bond and its role in therapy, medicine and society. American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. You can help make a difference, too. Visit American Humane Association at www.americanhumane.org today.

About Crown Media Family Networks

Crown Media Family Networks is the umbrella unit of Crown Media Holdings, Inc. housing cable’s leading family friendly networks, Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, as well as their corresponding digital extensions HallmarkChannel.com and HallmarkMoviesandMysteries.com. The company operates and distributes both channels in high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) with Hallmark Channel available to 90 million subscribers and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries in 62 million homes in the United States. Hallmark Channel features an ambitious slate of original content, including movies; scripted series, such as Cedar Cove, When Calls the Heart, and Good Witch; annual specials like Hero Dog Awards and Kitten Bowl; world premieres of Hallmark Hall of Fame presentations, and a daily 2-hour lifestyle show, Home & Family. Hallmark Channel is also home to annual holiday franchise, Countdown to Christmas, featuring a lineup of 24/7 holiday programming. Rounding out the networks’ lineup are television’s most beloved sitcoms and series, including The Golden Girls, The Middle, Little House on the Prairie, and Frasier. Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, recently rebranded from Hallmark Movie Channel, is a 24-hour digital cable network featuring a unique mix of original movies and acquired series focused on the lighter side of the suspense and mystery genres. The network also features its own annual holiday programming franchise, the Most Wonderful Movies of Christmas, as well as presentations from the award-winning Hallmark Hall of Fame library.

For more information, please visit www.crownmediapress.com

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