After a yearlong search, over a million votes from the American public and input from a panel of celebrity judges, Alice, a five-year-old German Shepherd, has been named the 2019 American Humane Hero Dog.
The story of Alice and her handler Antonio highlights the lifesaving, healing power of the bond between animals and people. In 2015, Antonio was living a normal, happy life for a nine-year-old boy in Nicholasville, Kentucky. He loved soccer and playing with his friends. In an act of random, senseless violence, a stranger fired multiple bullets through his family’s SUV, which hit Antonio in the head.
In an instant, Antonio’s life was changed forever. He spent 18 days in a coma and underwent five brain surgeries. Antonio’s day-to-day life was marred by a struggle against seizures, migraines, balance issues and other related health difficulties. Today, an artificial skull covers half of Antonio’s brain – an unexpected fall from a seizure could be deadly.
But Antonio’s family found a light in the darkness – a beacon of hope and love in Service Dog Alice. Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs in Florida paired Antonio with Alice in 2016. Since then, Alice has empowered Antonio to live the life that a stranger nearly robbed him of.
According to Antonio’s mom, Tara, “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.” Alice detects seizures before they happen, alerting Antonio and his family so he remains safe and healthy. The bond between Antonio and Alice is a heartwarming reminder of the powerful role that dogs play in our lives.
The 2019 American Humane Hero Dog Awards were held at The Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles on Oct. 5.If you missed the show, which aired Oct. 21 on Hallmark Channel and told the stories of seven extraordinary dogs, you can stream it here.