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Dog Who Saved Owner's Life During 9/11 Terror Attacks Named Top "American Hero Dog" At Inaugural American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™, Presented by Cesar® Canine Cuisine

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Roselle Takes Top Prize at Star-Studded Hollywood Gala
Million Dollar Donation by Philanthropist Lois Pope to Help Animals
$200,000 Gift and Challenge from Cesar® Canine Cuisine Supports Therapy Dogs

LOS ANGELES, October 4 – Every dog really does have his day. Or in this case, hers.  Roselle, the guide dog who led her blind master safely down 78 flights of stairs following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center,  has been named the top American Hero Dog at the world’s first American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™, presented by Cesar® Canine Cuisine. Roselle, who passed away this summer, was honored at the Hero Dog Awards with her master, Michael Hingson, and Guide Dog Africa. 

The star-studded awards, hosted at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 1 by Carson Kressley, are a new and ambitious effort to celebrate the powerful relationship between dogs and people – and to recognize extraordinary acts of heroism performed by ordinary dogs. The event will be broadcast nationwide on November 11 by Hallmark Channel.

During a nationwide search over the course of six months, hundreds of dogs from all 50 states were nominated and some 400,000 votes were cast by the American public, culminating in the selection of eight extraordinary canine finalists.

“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,” said Robin Ganzert, President and CEO of American Humane Association. “It was time to recognize the contributions of man’s best friends and celebrate the heroic feats they have performed for us every day. Every dog nominated is a bona fide hero, and all eight finalists were winners in their categories. Now, after hundreds of thousands of votes by the American public and consideration by a panel of VIP judges, we are proud to announce Roselle as the top American Hero Dog for 2011.”

The panel of celebrity judges included animal advocates and A-listers alike, including Betty White, Victoria Stilwell, Whoopi Goldberg, Prince Lorenzo Borghese, Christie Brooke, Travis Brorsen, Orlando Brown, Kristin Chenoweth, Wendy Diamond, Mark Hamill, Jillian Michaels, Tinsley Mortimer, Susan Orlean (author of the new book, “RIN TIN TIN: The Life and the Legend”), Jill Rappaport, Ashley Rhodes-Courter, Candy Spelling, Stealing Angels, Dr. Debbye Turner Bell, and Top Chef Fabio Viviani.

Red Carpet Treatment
The eight finalists and their handlers were flown to Los Angeles with American Humane Association partner JetBlue Airline, where they were joined by Atticus, the evening’s Grand Marshal Dog, who appeared on behalf of the nation’s disabled veterans, and RIN TIN TIN Smith, a twelfth in line descendant of the original RIN TIN TIN, the “National Spokesdog” for American Humane Association who received the first-ever “Legacy Award” from the charity. These four-legged celebrities were joined by a raft of two-legged ones as they walked the Red Carpet with and posed for a huge crowd of reporters, video crews and “pupparazzi.” The Red Carpet host was Robert Parks-Valletta, and Kira Lorsch served as Special Correspondent.

A stellar lineup of celebrity VIPS and presenters that included Paula Abdul, Kristin Bauer, Michelle Forbes, Peter Fonda, Faith Ford, Tara Harper, Julianne Hough, Joey Lawrence, Jason Lewis, Jake Pavelka, Pauley Perrette, Megyn Price, and Michael Vartan introduced the finalists, who were recognized with a special award created by sculptor Liza Todd-Tivey and a moving video tribute. The evening also featured a tribute film to the Hero Dogs of 9/11 narrated by Peter Fonda, and a tribute to RIN TIN TIN narrated by Mickey Rooney.  Music was provided by John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting.

Million-Dollar Stories….and a Million Dollar Surprise
In the midst of the many heart-warming tributes to the finalists and their heroic deeds, philanthropist Lois Pope announced a surprise $1 million gift to American Humane Association.

“Working with the American Humane Association is one of the two great causes in my life,” said Mrs. Pope.

“Every one of you who supports this wonderful organization is a hero in my book.”  Mrs. Pope, who just joined the board of American Humane Association, is well-known for her work as co-Founder and Chairperson of the Disabled Veterans’ LIFE Memorial Foundation, which seeks to honor America’s three million living and past disabled veterans with the building of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, the nation’s first permanent public tribute to these courageous men and women.

“This transformational gift will allow one of the oldest humanitarian organizations in the world, and the only one dedicated to helping children and animals, to continue its vital work in building a more humane and compassionate world for all of us,” said American Humane Association President & CEO Robin Ganzert, Ph.D. “On behalf of America’s children and America’s animals, thank you!”

The gift will aid American Humane Association in its work of:

  • Protecting America’s animals against abuse and neglect.
  • Continuing animal-assisted therapy programs that help children with cancer, military families impacted by service, and the infirm and the elderly with Red Star™ Animal Assisted Therapy.
  • Rescuing and helping animals though their famed Red Star™ Animal Emergency Services teams after disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, the Memphis floods, and the Joplin tornado.


More Good News: A $200,000 Gift of Hope – and a challenge
Another major donation was made at the Hero Dog Awards. The 400,000 public votes that were cast helped reach the charitable goal of a $200,000 donation by cesar® canine cuisine to American Humane Association, which will support therapy dogs to continue helping people in need across America.  

Cesar® Canine Cuisine also launched an additional effort to support American Humane Association and work with therapy dogs, announcing that the company will donate $1 to the nonprofit for every “like” they receive on the Cesar Facebook page, up to $20,000.  The public can help reach this goal by going to

“Like the pets in our own lives, therapy dogs are heroes, providing unconditional love and support for those that need it most, said Tierney Monaco, director, Cesar® Canine Cuisine. “This Facebook donation program is an easy way for dog lovers to get involved and help spread the love of these amazing dogs.”

All Finalists Winners
Roselle is the American Hero Dog for 2011, but all eight finalists were winners in their categories. We honor them all, each and every one:

  • Sadie (from Westminster, CO), the certified accelerant detection K-9 who works with the Major Crimes Unit of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation
  • Zurich (Des Plaines, IL), the certified service dog who helps care for and enriches  the life of his sick partner
  • Stacey Mae (Guffey, CO), the therapy dog who has helped collect thousands of teddy bears from around the world for sick children in hospitals
  • Military Working Dog Bino (Las Cruces, NM), who has served as a Narcotics Detection/Patrol K9 for almost eleven years
  • K9 Sage (Hagerman, NM), not only served at the Pentagon on 9/11 but continues  search and rescue work today
  • Harley (Fountain Hills, AZ), the hearing dog who has given his owner self-confidence and a feeling of equality with others that she had not experienced before
  • Ricochet (Escondido, CA), the dog who surfs with special needs kids and people with disabilities for therapeutic purposes.


The public can read all the finalists’ touching and heroic stories online at
Each of the eight finalists received $5,000 to be donated to one of American Humane Association’s charity partners, which include The Pine Street Foundation, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Dogs for the Deaf, National Fire Dog Monument, U.S. War Dog Association, National Search Dog Alliance, Canine Companions for Independence, and Paws & Effect. Roselle won an additional $10,000 for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

The American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards were produced by Emmy-award winning MRB Productions (Matthew Brady, Luke Watson, executive producers), Unleashed Public Relations, and Robin Ganzert, executive producer and president and CEO of American Humane Association, and will be broadcast on Hallmark Channel on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2011. 


About American Humane Association
Since 1877 American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting children, pets and farm animals 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 today.


About CESAR® Canine Cuisine
CESAR® Canine Cuisine is an exceptional line of high-quality cuisine and treats for small- to medium-sized dogs. We offer individually prepared entrees available in two textures, original pate and gourmet filets in sauce. From the filet mignon flavor to CESAR SUNRISE breakfast entrees, CESAR® Canine Cuisine features a variety of irresistible flavors and caters to the taste of small- to medium-sized dogs. Visit to learn more.


About Hallmark Channel
Hallmark Channel, owned and operated by Crown Media Holdings, Inc., is a 24-hour basic cable network that provides a diverse slate of high-quality entertainment programming available in high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) to a national audience of 87 million subscribers. The top tier program service is distributed through approximately 5,492 cable systems and communities as well as direct-to-home satellite services across the country. Hallmark Channel is the nation's leading network in quality family programming with an ambitious slate of original TV movies, lifestyle and general entertainment content, and is the home of "The Martha Stewart Show", which anchors the channel's daytime original programming block. Hallmark Channel's sibling network is Hallmark Movie Channel, also available in HD and SD, which focuses on the family-friendly movies with a mix of classic theatrical films, presentations from the acclaimed Hallmark Hall of Fame library, original Hallmark Channel movies and special events. For more information, please visit . Become a fan of Hallmark Channel on Facebook and Twitter.

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