WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, November 20, 2023 — Viewers should expect a “grab-the-tissues” television event on A&E and fyi, Network this Thanksgiving holiday week! The 13th Annual American Humane Hero Dog Awards® celebrates heroic canines and their incredible contributions as we witness the healing power of the human-animal bond. Executive producers Matt Brady (MRB Productions) and Dr. Robin Ganzert proudly present this heartwarming and paw-tastic primetime television special on Thanksgiving Day at 8pm ET on fyi, Network, and on November 26 at 1pm ET on A&E. You can also watch through video on demand on the A&E app or website over the next three months following the airing of the program on A&E. This holiday of gratitude would not be complete without paying it forward to man’s best friend.
The American Humane Hero Dog Awards is an annual, nationwide competition that recognizes America’s standout working dogs—often ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things—such as saving lives on the battlefield, lending sight or hearing to a human companion, or helping people achieve their goals. American Humane, the first national humane organization and the world’s largest certifier of animal welfare overseeing the humane treatment of more than one billion animals across the globe each year, has celebrated these amazing canine heroes for 13 years bringing to America these stories of kindness, compassion, courage, and unconditional love.
Known as the “Oscars® for Canines,” this year’s star-studded event was hosted by supermodel, actress, and entrepreneur Christie Brinkley and TV personality Carson Kressley. The glitzy gala presented by Lois Pope and the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation brought together celebrity animal lovers—including Nicollette Sheridan, Jennie Garth, Donna Mills, and more—at The Breakers Palm Beach on November 10 to celebrate America’s four-legged heroes.
Brinkley expressed her enthusiasm, stating, “I’ve dedicated my life to championing the cause of animals, and it is with great privilege that I embrace the opportunity provided by the American Humane Hero Dog Awards telecast. This platform serves as an ideal nationwide stage to pay homage to these extraordinary canines and bestow upon them a voice for a single, remarkable evening.”
“We are thrilled that Christie Brinkley co-hosted the 13th Annual Hero Dog Awards. Christie has spent her entire life advocating for animal welfare and that’s exactly what we do here at American Humane. It was an honor to have her join us as we celebrated these heroes on both ends of the leash” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, President and CEO of American Humane. “And it’s a real pleasure to welcome back fantastic long-time host and animal lover Carson Kressley to our gala in Palm Beach. Carson is a committed ambassador for all animals, and especially our hero dogs.”
So, who took home the title of top dog? Maverick—a lifesaving therapy dog for the United Services Organization (USO)—was honored as 2023 American Humane Hero Dog of the year.
When the competition kicked off earlier this year in April, Americans nominated hundreds of inspiring dogs from across the country. From there, five semi-finalists in each of the five categories were chosen to meet the American public, who voted for their favorite four-legged hero.
Dogs competed in five different categories:
- Law Enforcement and First Responder Dogs
- Service and Guide/Hearing Dogs
- Therapy Dogs
- Military Dogs
- Emerging Hero and Shelter Dogs
The field of 25 was whittled down to the top five finalists who competed to take home the title of 2023 American Humane Hero Dog. The winner, therapy dog Maverick, was selected by a blue-ribbon judging panel and announced nationwide on November 6.
Meet the remarkable American Humane Hero Dog Awards® finalists and winner!
Buda (Oceanside, California): Military working dog Buda—a four-year-old German shorthaired pointer—bravely serves our country as one of only eighteen certified explosives-detection canines in the U.S. Coast Guard. Buda and his canine handler, Maritime Enforcement Specialist Chase Leamer, work together to protect their local community both on the water and on land. Since graduating from his elite training program in 2021, Buda has participated in over 185 operational deployments and engagements. His work includes responding to bomb threats, performing safety sweeps of sea vessels, providing security at events like Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles, and more. This extraordinary hero dog is even trained to be hoisted in and out of helicopters.
Poppy (Columbia, South Carolina): Law enforcement canine Poppy—a five-year-old black Labrador—courageously protects students and faculty as an invaluable member of the University of South Carolina (USC) Police Department. Poppy is an award-winning explosives and firearms detection dog who serves alongside her handler, Sgt. Mark Tevepaugh. Poppy is a regular fixture at school and community events, providing security sweeps, crowd screening, and safety presentations to help empower students. She can also be found roaming the sprawling USC campus, where she brings smiles and comfort to stressed and homesick college students. When this hero dog is off duty, Poppy loves to spend time at home with her handler’s son.
Raina (Perkasie, Pennsylvania): Emerging hero shelter dog Raina—a 13-year-old Australian shepherd—came into this world blind, deaf, and with a contagious sense of joy. Her owner Kristen Strouse adopted Raina from a shelter when she was six months old. Ever since, this 13-year-old hero dog has served as a beautiful advocate for people and pets with special needs. Raina and Kristen are passionate about using public education, awareness events, and fundraisers to help rescue blind and deaf dogs, who often struggle to find their forever homes. At home, Raina offers comfort and inspiration to Kristen after an autoimmune deficiency forced her into early retirement. Her owner credits Raina with saving her life and keeping her going during that traumatic transition.
Moxie (Ballwin, Missouri): Lifesaving service dog Moxie—a five-year-old mini goldendoodle—helped her handler, Katie Harris, find hope and purpose again when a rare disease robbed her of her ability to walk, leaving her suicidal. Moxie’s unconditional love and dedication have since helped Katie get through countless hospital visits, surgeries, and painful medical episodes. She provides invaluable assistance on a daily basis, performing tasks like picking up dropped items, opening and closing doors, and alerting her handler to impending seizures and other medical crises. This hero dog lives up to her name, bringing spirit and courage to everything she does.
Maverick (Saint Robert, Missouri): United Service Organizations (USO) therapy dog Maverick—a six-year-old European Blue Great Dane—brings comfort and solace to our nation’s military heroes and their families. His unconditional love uplifts the spirits of the military community stationed at the Fort Leonard Wood Post base in Missouri, where he supports service members on suicide watch, escorts children to military funerals for their parents, and helps men and women cope with trauma, injuries, and stress. When not supporting our troops, this 150-pound hero dog—who is a canine cancer survivor—offers snuggles and strength to his owner, Kelly Brownfield, in her own ongoing battle with cancer.
Celebrity attendees included (in alphabetical order):
- Supermodel, actress, and entrepreneur Christie Brinkley (host)
- Real Housewife of Miami Adriana de Moura
- Actress Jennie Garth
- Stylist, television personality, and New York Times-bestselling author Carson Kressley (host)
- Real Housewife of Miami Julia Lemigova
- Actress Donna Mills
- Tennis star Monica Seles
- Actress Nicollette Sheridan
- The “Queen of Versailles” Jackie Siegal
About the American Humane Hero Dog Awards:
During the past 13 years, Americans have cast millions of votes for more than 1,000 dogs, all seeking the coveted title of American Humane Hero Dog. The program reaches billions of 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, Vivica A. Fox, Rebecca Romijn, Alison Sweeney,
James Denton, Beth Stern, Faithe Herman, Marcus Scribner, Bindi Irwin, Derek Hough, Richard Marx, Katharine McPhee, Michelle Beadle, Whoopi Goldberg, Denise Richards, Lisa Vanderpump, Chelsea Handler, Martin Short, Jewel, Wilson Phillips, John Ondrasik, Carson Kressley, Miranda Lambert, Pauley Perrette, Kristen Chenoweth, Naomi Judd, Eric Stonestreet, Danica McKellar, Bailee Madison and many more. For more information about the 2023 American Humane Hero Dog Awards, visit www.HeroDogAwards.org.
About American Humane:
American Humane is the United States’ first national humane organization and the world’s largest certifier of animal welfare, helping to ensure the humane treatment of more than one billion animals across the globe each year. Founded in 1877, American Humane has been First to Serve™ the cause of animals and for 145 years has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in the humane movement. For more information or to support our lifesaving work, please visit www.AmericanHumane.org, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and subscribe to our channel on YouTube for the latest breaking news and features about the animals with whom we share our Earth.
About Lois Pope and the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation:
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. Among her numerous philanthropic and humanitarian achievements, she is the driving force behind the Lois Pope LIFE Center, home to the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the University of Miami School of Medicine; The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial in Washington DC, the nation’s first and only permanent tribute to the four million-plus living disabled American veterans and all those who have died; the Lois Pope Center for Retinal and Macular Degeneration Research at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, and Lois’ Food4Kids Program at the Palm Beach County Food Bank. Pope recently donated to American Humane 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 a region.
Through her advocacy, Oct. 5 every year has been designated as a National Day of Honor for disabled veterans. A mother, a grandmother, and a great grandmother, she has trained for and completed five New York City Marathons.
About American Airlines Group – Our Heroes:
American Airlines Group – Our Heroes – has a longstanding tradition of serving those who serve our nation dating back to 1926. Today more than 9,000 of American’s 130,000 team members are veterans or are still serving in the National Guard or Reserve components. Our initiatives include providing financial and in-kind support to several organizations, to include The Medal of Honor Foundation, the Gary Sinise Foundation, the Honor Flight Network and the USO among many others. American supports those who have served our nation through mileage donations, providing charter flights for special missions and workforce development opportunities. For more information about the ways American Airlines supports members of the military, veterans, and their families, please visit aa.com/heroes.
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.
About the Brady Hunter Foundation:
The Brady Hunter Foundation is a leading 501(c)(3) non-profit organization operated by a group of philanthropists, humanitarians and animal lovers committed to ending animal cruelty, protecting wildlife, and making a positive impact in the lives of children. The Brady Hunter Charitable Fund was established in 2022, with The Brady Hunter Foundation formally launched shortly thereafter in early 2023. BHF is dedicated to creating sanctuaries all over the world to save animals from endangerment, abuse, and neglect, while also recognizing the importance of uplifting children and providing them with opportunities for a better future. For more information about The Brady Hunter Foundation, please visit www.bradyhunter.org.
About MITER Brands:
MITER Brands™ is a residential window and door manufacturer that produces a leading portfolio of window and door brands for the new construction and replacement segments. Through MI Windows and Doors and Milgard Windows and Doors, MITER Brands is one of the largest suppliers of precision-built and energy-efficient windows and doors throughout the United States servicing thousands of dealers. For more information, visit miterbrands.com, miwindows.com, or Milgard.com.
About Ethos Veterinary Health:
Enriching the lives of more than 1.5 million pets annually, Ethos Veterinary Health is a unique community of 145 locally operated specialty and emergency hospitals united by a dedication to compassionately serving pets and people. With a focus on innovation, world-class medicine, and unparalleled care, Ethos brings hope to pets and people during their times of greatest need. For more information, visit EthosVet.com.