In what is clearly shaping up to be the most popular and unifying campaign of 2012, Americans of every political persuasion have come together in unprecedented numbers, casting more than three million votes to select the finalists in the 2012 “American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards.” From an outstanding field of hundreds of four-legged heroes representing every U.S. state, eight of America’s top dogs were chosen as winners in their specialized category, one in each of the following areas: Law Enforcement and Arson Dogs; Service Dogs; Therapy Dogs; Military Dogs; Guide Dogs; Search and Rescue Dogs; Hearing Dogs; and Emerging Hero Dogs, honoring ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things.
These eight super dogs traveled with their guardians to Beverly Hills for a star-studded, red-carpet gala and award ceremony featuring VIP presenter Betty White and other canine-loving celebrities, held in the ballroom of the landmark Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday, October 6. Each finalist was presented with a Hero Dog award for their feats of loyalty, bravery, and love, and won $5,000 for a selected charity partner. In addition, announced live from our stage, only one finalist walked away with top honors as the winning American Hero Dog for 2012, securing an additional $10,000 for their charity partner. The Hero Dog Awards, which are presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation and produced by Emmy® award-winning MRB Productions, will air as a 90-minute special November 8 on Hallmark Channel as part of Pet Project, the network’s cross-platform campaign designed to celebrate the joy and enrichment animals bring to our lives.
“The many ways in which dogs enrich, protect, and save our lives is nothing short of remarkable,” says Bill Abbott, president and CEO, Crown Media Family Networks. “Hero Dog Awards is a fitting tribute to our eight finalists, and shines a spotlight on countless canine heroes worldwide who make extraordinary contributions on our behalf every day.”
“Each dog who was nominated is a bona fide hero,” says Robin Ganzert, President and CEO of American Humane Association. “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. For millennia, dogs have truly been our best friends and it is time to recognize that friendship and celebrate the heroic feats they perform for us daily. We thank them, their owners and handlers, and the generous sponsors who have helped bring about that recognition – The Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Hallmark Channel, MRB Productions, Pfizer Animal Health, State Farm, Trupanion, Merial, Zoom Room, PetHub, Dog Is Good, Modern Dog magazine, KONG, and Zuke’s. Thank you all!”
The Hero Dog Awards program was created by the American Humane Association to recognize and honor the powerful relationship between dogs and people. The annual national competition searches out and recognizes America’s Hero Dogs who unconditionally avail themselves to us in so many important ways, whether it’s saving lives on the battlefield, lending sight or hearing to a human companion, providing therapeutic support to those suffering from cancer or other terminal illnesses, or helping autistic children find their voice and connect with the world.
And the winners are...
MILITARY DOG CATEGORY - Gabe/Charles Shuck, guardian
Winner: GABE (Columbia, SC) – Retired MWD Sgt. Gabe has served our great country since 2006 when he first reported for duty. From training in Ft. Lewis, WA to completing over 210 combat missions with 26 explosive and weapons finds in Iraq, MWD Sgt. Gabe still made time throughout the day to bring love and joy to his comrades. Since retiring in 2009, MWD Sgt. Gabe has earned over 40 awards and coins of excellence for his heroic work and spends his free time educating children on the value of respect and staying in school. (Charity Partner: The United States War Dog Association, Inc.)
EMERGING HERO CATEGORY - Daniel/Joe Dwyer, guardian
Winner: DANIEL (Nutley, NJ) – Daniel, a beagle from an Alabama shelter on “death row,” did the unimaginable in 2011 when he survived the most inhumane form of euthanasia, the gas chamber. Since adopted by his loving guardian, Joe Dwyer, Daniel the “Miracle Beagle” has used his second chance at life as an advocate for shelter adoptions and humane euthanasia legislation across the United States. (Charity Partner: The Pine Street Foundation).
GUIDE DOG CATEGORY - Tabitha/Ann Drake, former guardian
Winner: TABITHA (South Bend, IN) – Guide dog Tabitha is more than just a guide dog to her former guardian, Ann Drake, who lost her sight as an adult. Tabitha guided Ann back to a place within herself where she found the confidence that she had lost and overcame the fears of her new life. With Tabitha by her side, Ann went on to complete her undergraduate and graduate studies. (Charity Partner: Leader Dogs for the Blind).
LAW ENFORCEMENT/ARSON DOG CATEGORY, sponsored by State Farm - Jynx/Sgt. Kyle Pagerly; Alecia Pagerly, guardian
Winner: JYNX (Shillington, PA) – On the evening of June 29, 2011, Law Enforcement-Arson K-9 Jynx desperately worked to try and pull his guardian Sgt.Kyle Pagerly and another officer out of harm’s way as a crime suspect opened fire during a routine warrant delivery. 28-year-old Sgt. Pagerly was killed in the line of duty leaving behind his pregnant wife. If not for the swift and heroic efforts of K-9 Jynx, more officers would have lost their lives that night. (Charity Partner: K9s4COPs).
HEARING DOG CATEGORY, sponsored by MRB Productions - Tatiana/Cristina Saint-Blancard, guardian
Winner: TATIANA II (Plantation, FL) -- Hearing dog, Tatiana II, was matched with handler Cristina Saint-Blancard in 2011 as her hearing dog but quickly turned into her life-saving hero. Cristina suffers from asthma which is exacerbated by frequent ear infections and one night found herself struggling for breath and soon completely without breath. Tatiana II was quick to notice something was wrong and ran into the next room to alert Cristina’s family. If not for Tatiana II that night, Cristina would not have gone on to graduate from Purdue University last December with Tatiana II by her side. (Charity Partner: Dogs for the Deaf).
SEARCH AND RESCUE DOG CATEGORYSoot/Lorraine Burdette, guardian
Winner: SOOT (Charleston, WV) – West Virginia Search and Rescue K-9 Soot, didn’t know he had a big job ahead of him when he was adopted by Lorraine Burdette. Soot’s training in air scent, scent discrimination, and certified search and rescue wilderness training gave him the tools he needed to rescue a lost 78-year-old diabetic hunter lost in the wilderness on a cold December morning. (Charity Partner: The Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve).
SERVICE DOG CATEGORY, sponsored by Trupanion - Holly/Shanna Wilkinson, guardian
Winner: HOLLY (Magna, UT) – Seizure alert Service Dog Holly never takes her attention away from her guardian, Shanna Wilkinson, who suffers from epileptic seizures. With Holly by her side, Shanna is able to embrace all of life’s gifts and challenges without fear. Together they travel and together they teach elementary students the importance of Service Dogs. (Charity Partner: International Association of Assistance Dog Partners).
THERAPY DOG CATEGORY, sponsored by Pfizer Animal Health - Stella/Stacy Lynn Rivera, entrant; Marissa Levy, guardian
Winner: STELLA (Mt. Kisco, NY) – Therapy Dog Stella and her guardian Marissa Levy, dedicate their time to bringing love and joy to the residents at Richmond Community Services, a not-for-profit organization that cares for developmentally disabled children and adults. Stella is unfazed by disabilities and diseases – befriending and with time, unconditionally loving all she meets. Stella is the sunshine that beats the cloudy days for the residents and for that they are so appreciative. (Charity Partner: Angel On A Leash).
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 over 87 million subscribers. The top-tier program service is distributed through approximately 5,500 cable systems and communities as well as direct-to-home satellite services across the country. Hallmark Channel is the nation’s leading destination for quality family programming with an ambitious slate of original TV movies and specials, as well as some of television’s most beloved sitcoms and series, including The Golden Girls, Frasier, Little House on the Prairie, and The Waltons. Since 2010, Hallmark Channel has also been home to original daytime lifestyle programming and is debuting two new daily series, Home & Family and Marie, on October 1, 2012. Hallmark Channel's sibling network is Hallmark Movie Channel, also available in HD and SD, which focuses on 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.
Hallmark Channel’s Pet Project is a multi-faceted initiative devoted to celebrating pets and the incredible joy and enrichment they bring to our lives. To carry out our mission, we’ll be bringing you compelling original programming, social media outreach, and a resource-rich website. Through public service announcements, local grass-roots events, and strategic partnerships with such national non-profit organizations as American Humane Association and PetSmart Charities, Hallmark Channel’s Pet Project also aims to shine a spotlight on this country’s epidemic of pet homelessness and provide the public with the information and resources they need to find their new best friend.
For more information, please visit www.hallmarkchannelpress.com/petproject
Lois Pope is one of America’s leading philanthropists and humanitarians. Through her various charitable mechanisms, including the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., she is devoted to saving lives, helping people help themselves, improving the quality of life for families in need and encouraging young Americans to become leaders by helping others. Her foundations also provide awards for medical research, college scholarships, humanitarian relief, the performing arts, and animal welfare. Among the many organizations that benefit from her leadership are the American Humane Association; the Disabled Veterans’ LIFE Memorial Foundation, which she founded to spearhead the development of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, the nation’s first and only permanent public tribute to the three million living disabled American veterans and the thousands who have died; the University of Miami, where her major contribution endowed the Lois Pope LIFE Center, the top catastrophic neurological research facility in the world and home to the renowned Miami Project to Cure Paralysis; Leaders in Furthering Education, which has provided a summer camp experience for more than 15,000 disadvantaged and special needs children, as well as college scholarship support to dozens of disadvantaged high school students who aspire to careers as physicians/researchers; Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s Red Cross, for new ambulances; and the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League for a new mobile pet adoption unit.
MRB's feature department is in post-production on the psychological thriller Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes, starring Jessica Biel and Alfred Molina, while MRB's political activism biopic, starring Jason Biggs, is currently in theaters. Emmy award winning MRB recently won a Webby for The Confession, starring Kiefer Sutherland. In Television, MRB has a decade of experience producing the pre-taped segments and VIP program for ESPN's ESPY Awards, in addition to producing the inaugural Hero Dog Awards for the Hallmark Channel. Additional TV projects include two seasons of the mockumentary comedy show Free Radio on VH1 and Comedy Central. In the video game space, MRB partners with Ubisoft on the Just Dance Kids series. MRB's commercial repertoire includes a longstanding relationship with Mattel and collaborations with Periera & O'Dell, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Publicis, for clients such as Samsung, NHL, Smirnoff, Wal-Mart, and University of Phoenix.
Pfizer Animal Health, a business unit of Pfizer Inc, is a world leader in the discovery, development and manufacture of innovative animal health vaccines, medicines, diagnostic products and genetic tests. We work to assure a safe, sustainable global food supply from healthy beef and dairy cattle, swine, poultry, sheep and fish while helping dogs, cats and horses live healthier longer lives. We strive to be the animal health company that provides full healthcare solutions to veterinarians, livestock producers, and pet owners. To learn more visit http://www.PfizerAnimalHealth.com.
State Farm and its affiliates are the largest provider of car insurance in the U.S. and is a leading insurer in Canada. In addition to providing auto insurance quotes, their 17,800 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve 81 million policies and accounts - more than 79 million auto, home, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is also available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 37 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com or in Canada http://www.statefarm.ca.
Trupanion is a trusted pet brand and proven industry leader in pet insurance, offering cat and dog insurance in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, providing financial peace of mind for pet owners. We are a company made up of pet owners and pet lovers devoted to two principles—continually upgrading our policy benefits to include the best and latest proven veterinary medical advancements, and devising new ways to make it simple and easy for our customers to enroll and make claims for their pets. Trupanion offers an easy and simple, customizable pet insurance policy and the best value in the industry with 90% coverage for diagnostic tests, surgeries, medications, hospital stays, and alternative therapies for the treatment of accidents or illnesses. Hereditary and congenital conditions are included and there are no payout limits per incident, per year, or over the lifetime of the pet. Trupanion is self-underwritten by the American Pet Insurance Company, which has earned a Financial Stability Rating of A, Exceptional, from Demotech, Inc. Trupanion is a proud sponsor of the American Humane Association’s national Hero Dog Awards, and is a founding member of the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), demonstrating our commitment to high standards and transparency in all of our actions and products. For more information call 800-569-7913 or visit Trupanion pet insurance. You can also follow Trupanion on Twitter or Facebook.
Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs approximately 5,600 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2011 sales were more than €2 billion ($2.8 billion). Merial is a Sanofi company. For more information, please see www.merial.com.
The Zoom Room is a dog training center and canine social club specializing in dog agility. Founded in 2007 by expert dog trainer Jaime Van Wye, the Zoom Room offers dozens of classes teaching dog owners how to train their dogs, in addition to hosting events such as dog birthday parties, breed meet-up groups and fundraising events. For more information, visit www.ZoomRoomOnline.com.
PetHub, Inc., is a privately funded company focused on getting lost pets home faster and safer than ever before using new technologies to solve an old problem. The company's latest YouTube videos can be viewed at PetHub.tv. PetHub™ and SmartLink™ are trademarks of PetHub, Inc. The PetHub SmartLink tag is patent pending. Be sure to "Like" PetHub on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and see our videos on Youtube.
Founded in 2007, Dog is Good was co-founded by Jon Kurtz, CAPT., USN (ret), his wife, Gila Kurtz, a professional dog trainer, and J. Nichole Smith, a professional pet photographer. The company, which employs 10, is headquartered in Los Alamitos, Calif. The company has received awards for its various T-shirt and gift designs from numerous pet and gift industry authorities. Their products are available in retail stores, on-line and through several licensees. For more information, visit www.dogisgood.com.
Celebrating 10 years, Modern Dog magazine is a must-read for dog lovers! Get inspired with the best ideas and solutions for life with dogs. Each issue features cool finds, design, insight into your dog’s behaviour, best buys, wellness, rescue, training, fun DIY how-to’s, contests and more! Modern Dog is your guide to a better bond with your dog. A large part of Modern Dog’s mission is to support rescue and the organizations that work tirelessly to help to dogs in need. www.moderndogmagazine.com
KONG Company is the premier global provider of interactive toys and other products for dogs and cats. The company’s namesake Classic KONG is widely regarded as the “World’s Best Dog Toy” and is recommended by vets, trainers and behaviorists more than any other toy. With a persistent commitment to innovation, the company continues to regularly introduce unique, high-quality dog and cat products. KONG also makes it a top priority to give back to the pet community. KONG was founded in 1976 and is based in Golden, Colorado. For more information visit kongcompany.com or facebook.com/KONGCompany.
Located in Durango, Colorado and named after founder Patrick Meiering’s loving Labrador Retriever, Zuke’s knows firsthand the value of living a healthy, active life with your pets. To that end, Zuke’s is dedicated to creating natural, delicious treats and chews that meet the unique nutritional needs of dogs and cats. Since 1995, Zuke’s products have been made in the USA and include the finest meats, premium grains, freshest fruits, richest vegetables and high-quality oils which keep pets healthy and allow them to perform at their very best. Whether you are hiking with your dog or entertaining your feisty cat, we understand and honor the unconditional love between people and their pets. Learn more about Zuke’s at www.zukes.com.