American Humane Association Hero Dog Award Finalists


There was the report on the news of a child murdered as a result of a stray bullet in gang fire, a story about a public official in hiding and serious concerns offered about the future of the U.S. economy due to foreign debt of an unfathomable amount.

Nothing about heroes on the news, much less canine heroes. Ordinary dogs are achieving the extraordinary every day; they are providing independence for people with disabilities; assisting law enforcement and firefighters every single day. These dogs are nothing short of heroes, and that is why the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards were created.

These pups are also helping out all of us…There really is a trickle down affect. By providing independence as assistance or service dogs – from guiding the visually impaired to helping ex veterans deal with post traumatic stress disorder – these dogs save all of us millions. With a dog at their side some people are able to work and contribute to the economy rather than pull from it. And other individuals may require less medication; indeed a dog may be better than Prozac. Military dogs who sniff out explosives overseas and serve as watch dogs have saved more military lives than anyone can count. And dogs at home serve fire departments and police departments. All these dogs certainly are heroes.

Following two million votes, eight dogs are going to star in the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards Gala and Awards Ceremony on October 6 with many Hollywood celebrities – but the real stars of the red carpet will be the canines. A 90-minute TV broadcast will follow, airing November 2 on the Hallmark Channel.

Each finalist will be presented with a Hero Dog award for their feats of loyalty, bravery, and love, and win $5,000 for a selected charity partner.  In addition, announced live from our stage, one finalist will walk 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.

“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.”

Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association says, “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. 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.”

The Hero Dog Awards program was created by the American Humane Association to recognize and honor the powerful relationship between dogs and people.

And the Winners Are….


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.)


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 Dawyer, 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).


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).


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

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).


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

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

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).


Phase II Hero Dog Voting Now in Progress with All-Star Judging Panel

The final phase of this exciting journey to select the winning 2011 American Hero Dog has now begun with voting by the public (cast your ballot at and an all-star panel of judges including Whoopi Goldberg, Victoria Stilwell, Candy Spelling, Kristin Chenoweth, Miranda Lambert, Michelle Forbes, Megyn Price, J.R. Martinez, Susan Orlean, Kristin Bauer Van Straten, Chrishaunda Lee Perez, CBS-TV’s Dr. Debbye Turner Bell, ABC-TV’s Dr. Marty Becker, Tinsley Mortimer, Prince Lorenzo Borghese, Tara Harper, Edie McClurg, Christie Brooke, Ashley Rhodes-Courter, and the handlers and owners of last year’s winners Jerry Means, Nancy Otte, Michael Hingson, Patti Kennedy, Maria Mandel, Debbie Kandoll, and Diane Whetsel, who will help choose the Grand Prize Winner from among the finalists. The judging period will continue until midnight on October 5.

Table sales and sponsorship information for the Hero Dog Awards gala is available at or by calling (866) 242-1877.