WASHINGTON, June 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Every dog has his day, and on Friday the 13th twenty-four lucky dogs advanced to the semifinals of the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™, the annual celebration of the country's most courageous canines. Actually luck had nothing to do with it. More than one million votes were cast by the American public in just the first round, narrowing the field from the 135 original contenders. Voting for the final eight by the public and a special celebrity panel begins today and runs through June 30 at www.herodogawards.org.
Presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, and carried to more than 1 billion people around the world by thousands of media, the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards seek to identify and recognize America's Hero Dogs – ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things, whether it's saving lives, lending a comforting paw when we're sick, or just welcoming us home at the end of a hard day. Hero dogs across the country have been nominated in eight categories: Law Enforcement Dogs, Military Dogs, Arson Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs, Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs, and Emerging Hero Dogs (for ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things).
Each of the eight finalists and their handlers will be flown to Hollywood to take part in the Hero Dog Awards gala at The Beverly Hilton hotel on Saturday, September 27, to be broadcast nationally on Hallmark Channel in the fall. There they will walk the red carpet, conduct VIP interviews, and attend the star-studded awards show and black-tie gala where the winning 2014 American Hero Dog will be chosen.
Each of the eight finalists will win $1,500 for their chosen charity selected from the contest's list of 15 charity partners. The top winner will win an additional $5,000 for their charity partner.
"All of these dogs are heroes," said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Association president and CEO. "But in the end only one will take home the title of 2014 American Hero Dog. We call on all dog lovers to repay the good works of our best friends by helping choose and honor America's most courageous canines."
"These dogs bring us hope, love, and often life-saving care," said philanthropist and Hero Dog Awards supporter Lois Pope. "Each and every one of these brave animals is a hero in my book. I look forward to seeing and meeting America's final eight choices in September as we search for our newest American Hero Dog."
Meet the 24 Semifinalists!
Arson Dogs category (sponsored by State Farm)
- Amber (Bristol, IN) – She is a 16-year old retired arson dog for the Elkhart Fire Department in Indiana whose playful demeanor and small stature fooled suspected arsonists into thinking she was a puppy, when in actuality she was working to solve the case. Now in her retirement she helps train future arson dogs and is the inspiration behind "Amber's Open House," a fire prevention program in her county. (Charity Partner: Project Paws Alive)
- Glory (Evansville, WI) – Once an assistance dog for persons with disabilities, her outgoing personality was too much for the work, and helped her transition to working as an arson dog in Beloit, Wisconsin. Though only on the job a few months at the time of nomination, her dedication and hard work has helped put many arsonists behind bars. When not on duty, she provides therapy to her fellow firefighters after a rough day. (Charity Partner: Project Paws Alive)
- Kai San (Antonio, TX) – The San Antonio Fire Department's six-year-old black Lab was rescued from a shelter and given a second chance. Now she helps keep others safe by investigating arson cases. In her four-year career she has taken part in more than 200 investigations and helps educate children on fire safety. (Charity Partner: Project Paws Alive)
Emerging Hero Dogs category (sponsored by Trupanion)
- Gizmo (Vernon, CT) – This therapy dog visits hospitals, schools, rehab centers, nursing facilities, and libraries across Connecticut and beyond. He helps raise awareness and funds for a number of causes, including pet rescues, children's charities, and cancer research. He assists with educational programs for a variety of causes from bullying prevention to paying it forward in the community. (Charity Partner: Pine Street Foundation)
- Juno (Sturbridge, MA) – A six-pound Chihuahua with a massive heart, Juno not only visits those in hospitals, but has lent a paw to numerous charity organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project, the Molly Bish Foundation, Massachusetts Vest-a-Dog (providing police dogs with bulletproof vests), and helping to collect school supplies for needy children. (Charity Partner: Pine Street Foundation)
- Xena (Johns Creek, GA) – This pit bull was knocking on death's door when she was brought into a Georgia shelter outside Atlanta. Emaciated and dehydrated, she was given just a one percent chance at survival. Unbelievably, she defied the odds, made a full recovery and was adopted by a family with a little boy with autism. Before, the child had closed himself off to the world, but the arrival of Xena sparked something in the child, and now he went from once silent to constantly singing to and chatting with Xena the Warrior Puppy (Charity Partner: Sheltie Rescue of Utah).
Guide/Hearing Dogs category (sponsored by Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food)
- Mason (Fairmont, WV) – Working with a young boy from Fairmont, West Virginia who has spent every day of his life attached to life-sustaining equipment, Mason alerts the boy to different sounds. Acting as his ears, Mason alerts the boy to dangers such as approaching cars. (Charity Partner: Paws4Life)
- Nola (Salem, MA) – This Golden Retriever from Salem, Massachusetts enthusiastically guides her owner through the busy streets, safe from harm. Her owner serves as a counselor, and Nola helps comfort people by putting her head in their laps, as if it say that everything will be okay. (Charity Partner: The Seeing Eye)
- XXon (Bloomfield, CT) – In January 2010, an explosion in Kandahar, Afghanistan left Air Force Sergeant Michael Malarsie blind and killed four of his fellow servicemen, including his best friend. Though he lost his sight, Sgt. Malarsie was soon partnered with XXon, and they became the only active duty guide dog team in the Air Force. Now retired, Sgt. Malarsie continues to work with XXon every day as the dog helps get him safely to wherever he needs to be. (Charity Partner: Fidelco).
Law Enforcement Dogs category
- Chiquita (San Pedro, CA) – This Belgian Malinois served her country for eight years as an Explosion Detection Canine in the U.S. Coast Guard, protecting two Presidents and First Ladies, the Vice President, the Governor of California, and thousands of Americans traveling on waterborne mass transit systems around the country. (Charity Partner: K9s4COPs)
- Kota (Winchester, VA) – A member of the Winchester, Virginia police force, this dog was injured by an eight-foot fall while responding to a burglary in progress. Undeterred, he helped his fellow officers finish the call, fighting with a severely fractured limb to ensure their safety. (Charity Partner: K9s4COPs)
- Mack (Houston, TX) – A five-year-old German Shepherd and deputy with the Harris County, Texas Sheriff's Department, Mack helped arrest numerous suspects and won his department's Bravery Award for the capture of an escaped inmate who had told his family he would shoot an law enforcement officer he encountered. (Charity Partner: K9s4COPs)
Military Dogs category
- Chaney (Waverly, IA) -- This eight-year-old lab who retired from the Marines in 2013 after multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as an IED detection dog. While deployed, Chaney not only saved countless lives by locating IEDs, he also served as a great morale booster for everyone in his squad. Since retiring, Chaney was adopted by one of his handlers and they now spend many hours volunteering around the Midwest for a nonprofit organization called Retrieving Freedom, Inc., which trains service dogs for disabled veterans and children with autism. (Charity Partner: America's VetDogs)
- Honza (Shavertown, PA) – An eight-year-old yellow Lab trained to find explosives for the United States Army, he spent 12 months in Afghanistan. He located 14 IEDs, resulting in more than 400 pounds of explosives being destroyed, and not used against American troops. (Charity Partner: America's VetDogs)
- Lio (Arnoldsburg, WV) – This dog served more than eight years in the military, working both in Iraq and at bases in the United States, helping to provide protection and law enforcement. Though years of service have taken their toll in the form of many physical injuries like gunpowder burns in the eyes, broken teeth, and his stomach sewn to his body cavity, he still acts like a true hero in retirement. (Charity Partner: America's VetDogs)
Search and Rescue Dogs category
- Bretagne (Cypress, TX) – Over her long career, Bretagne has made a significant contribution to the search and rescue community through her many deployments including the World Trade Center after 9/11, the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, and Hurricane Rita in 2005. She now continues as an ambassador for search and rescue dogs as she visits elementary schools where she helps first graders learn to read. (Charity Partner: Penn Vet Working Dog Center)
- Glory (Sun Valley, CA) – This six year old is the only Bloodhound in the state of California certified to find lost pets, and has helped bring closure to hundreds of families in either locating the pet or finding remains. One of her most famous rescues includes finding Goldie, a dog who had been missing for nine days. Shortly after reuniting Goldie and the owner, the owner died peacefully with Goldie in his arms. (Charity Partner: National Search Dog Alliance)
- Maxwell (Attalla, AL) – This Australian Shepherd from Alabama has worked and trained to help humans his entire life. He has excelled in in his service and has saved those lost so they may be reunited with their families and loved ones. (Charity Partner: National Search Dog Alliance)
Service Dogs category (sponsored by Modern Dog)
- JJ Krawczyk (Apex, NC) – Once a shelter dog, this small hero was rescued, trained, and partnered with a young girl suffering from a rare condition known as Mastocytosis, which can cause severe reactions for her. This dog with the gifted nose can detect when reactions are about to occur, alerting the girl's parents that her life might be in danger. When she needed surgery recently, doctors requested the dog be present in the operating room to help keep the girl alive. (Charity Partner: Eyes Ears Nose & Paws)
- Major (Zanesville, OH) – Thousands of veterans are unfortunately affected by posttraumatic stress disorder, and research has shown that service dogs can help them live life anew. This was the case for Terrance McGlade, who was paired with Major a few years ago, saying he was in a really dark place before meeting this hero dog. Major also works with other veterans, serving as a therapy dog at the V.A. clinic in their hometown of Zanesville, Ohio. (Charity Partner: America's VetDogs)
- Wyatt (Wyckoff, NJ)-- Wyatt has saved hundreds of lives, whether he is screening firefighters for cancer and other health issues, or teaching special needs children how to walk, talk, learn, or trust. In 2011, Wyatt detected a microscopic adenocarcinoma tumor in his owner, and solely due to Wyatt's persistent alert over a three-week period, his owner is alive and healthy after her second bout with cancer. In fact, the surgeon could not even locate the mass without removing the exact area Wyatt had alerted on. (Charity Partner: America's VetDogs)
Therapy Dogs category (sponsored by Zoetis)
- Jeffrey (Milford, CT) – Rescued from death row at a shelter at the eleventh hour, this pit bull has been given a second chance as a therapy dog. Now he is beloved by children in southern Connecticut, visiting grief groups, scout troops, hospitals, and weekly visits to a library. His signature painted toenails delight children and adults alike, helping to spread his message of peace, love and healing wherever he goes. (Charity Partner: The Good Dog Foundation)
- Parker (Aloha, OR) – An actor, model, and therapy dog, Parker has dedicated his life to helping others. He visits hospitals, helps children learn to read, and participates in cancer walks up and down the West Coast, wearing a vest containing more than 2,000 names of people and pets diagnosed with cancer. Recently, while playing the role of Sandy in a production of "Annie," he helped comfort the cast after two young girls were killed in a hit-and-run accident, one of whom had been set to play the role of an orphan in the play. (Charity: Paws & Effect)
- Susie (High Point, NC) – A puppy that was set on fire and a woman who suffered a brutal dog attack became a dedicated team that eventually changed North Carolina animal-cruelty laws. Susie the Pit Bull mix began life with terror and pain when she was beaten, burned, and abandoned. Susie and her owner both triumphed over pain and fear to become voices for abused animals that have no voice. They visit hospitals, schools, and nursing homes to inspire people never to give up. (Charity: Paws & Effect)
In addition to the wonderful category sponsors, American Humane Association would also like to thank Zoetis for being the Official Online Sponsor of the 2014 Hero Dog Awards, Trupanion as the Official Pet Medical Insurance of the 2014 Hero Dog Awards,The Beverly Hilton Hotel for sponsoring the awards gala, our Best Producer Sponsor Merial, and Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food as the Official Pet Food of the 2014 Hero Dog Awards.
You can see photos and stories of all 24 semifinalists, and vote at www.herodogawards.org
About American Humane Association
American Humane Association is the country's first national humane organization and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Since 1877, American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting our most vulnerable 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 www.americanhumane.org today.
About Lois Pope, The Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., and LIFE (Leaders in Furthering Education)
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 different 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. Over the last 20 years she has been the driving force behind the Lois Pope LIFE Center at the University of Miami School of Medicine, The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, a summer camp program serving thousands of underprivileged children and a groundbreaking new program with American Humane Association in Palm Beach County. Lois Pope has recently donated two Lois Pope Red Star 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 emergency services within the region. To learn more visit www.life-edu.org or call 561.865.0955.
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 86 million subscribers. Hallmark Channel is the nation's leading destination for quality family programming with an ambitious slate of TV movies; original scripted series, including Cedar Cove, When Calls the Heart, and Signed, Sealed, Delivered; specials such as Kitten Bowl; as well as some of television's most beloved sitcoms and series, including The Golden Girls, The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, and Frasier. The channel is also home to Daytime Emmy-nominated lifestyle program, Home & Family, a daily two-hour live show shot in a fully functional house located on the Universal Studios lot. Hallmark Channel's sibling network, Hallmark Movie Channel, available in HD and SD, focuses on family-friendly movies with a mix of original films, classic theatrical releases, and presentations from the acclaimed Hallmark Hall of Fame library.
For more information, please visit www.crownmediapress.com
Zoetis (zō-EH-tis) is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 60 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products and genetic tests and supported by a range of services. In 2013, the company generated annual revenues of $4.6 billion. With approximately 9,800 employees worldwide at the beginning of 2014, Zoetis has a local presence in approximately 70 countries, including 28 manufacturing facilities in 11 countries. Its products serve veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals in 120 countries. For more information, visit https://www.zoetisus.com.
Zoetis is the proud sponsor, with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, of the mobile educational exhibit Animal Connections: Our Journey Together. Families visiting the exhibit will explore the vast bonds between people and animals and learn about the important role veterinarians play in protecting animal and human health. For more information, visit http://www.zoetis.com/animal-connections-tour.
About State Farm
State Farm and its affiliates are the largest providers of car insurance in the U.S. and is a leading insurer in Canada. In addition to providing auto insurance quotes, their 18,000 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. 44 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit www.statefarm.com or in Canada www.statefarm.ca.
Trupanion is an industry leader in medical insurance for pets, offering cat and dog medical insurance in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico with the mission to help the pets we all love receive the best veterinary care possible. Trupanion offers a simple, fair and comprehensive pet medical insurance policy that pays 90% of veterinary costs for covered accident and illness claims that could include diagnostic tests, surgeries, medications, hospital stays, and alternative therapies for the treatment of injuries or illnesses. Trupanion's policy includes coverage of chronic, hereditary and congenital conditions with no payout limits per incident, per year, or over the lifetime of the pet. Some terms and conditions apply, please see our policy for details at Trupanion.com. In the United States, Trupanion is underwritten by the American Pet Insurance Company, which has earned a Financial Stability Rating® of A--Exceptional from Demotech, Inc. In Canada, Trupanion is underwritten by Omega General Insurance Company. Trupanion is a founding member of the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), demonstrating a commitment to high standards and transparency in all actions and products. For more information call 888.733.2685 or visit Trupanion.com. 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 6,000 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Merial is a Sanofi company. For more information, please see www.merial.com.
About Modern Dog magazine
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
About Chicken Soup for the Soul
Chicken Soup for the Soul publishes the famous Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. In 2007, USA Today named Chicken Soup for the Soul one of the five most memorable books in the last quarter-century. With over 100 million books sold to date in the U.S. and Canada alone, more than 250 titles, and translations into more than 40 languages, "chicken soup for the soul" is one of the world's best-known phrases. Today, 20 years after it first began sharing happiness, inspiration and wellness through its books, Chicken Soup for the Soul continues to delight its readers with new titles, but has also evolved beyond the bookstore. Its high quality products include wholesome and balanced pet food that recognizes the unique relationship between pets and people, a new line of delicious, nutritious comfort food inspired by the connection between food and feelings, as well as movies, television programming, music and a host of digital products. Chicken Soup for the Soul is "always there for you™." For more information visit www.chickensoup.com
About The Beverly Hilton
Opened in 1955 by distinguished hotelier Conrad Hilton, The Beverly Hilton, a Forbes Four-Star hotel, is owned by the Los Angeles-based, Oasis West Realty, LLC and managed by Hilton Worldwide (NYSE: HLT). Nestled at the crossroads of the iconic Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards, the hotel combines the excitement and entertainment of Hollywood with the prestige of Beverly Hills. The 569-room hotel features 101 suites including nine private luxury suites within The Penthouse Collection. With more than 60,000 square feet of indoor and open-air event space, The Beverly Hilton boasts the most technologically advanced meeting space of its kind in the country. The hotel's renowned International Ballroom plays host to glamorous annual events including the Golden Globe Awards Show, Oscar Nominee Luncheon, Pre-GRAMMYs Gala, and the Milken Institute's Global Conference. The legendary Aqua Star Pool is Beverly Hills' largest pool and is the setting for numerous recognizable photo shoots. The adjoining Aqua Star BABOR Beauty Spa offers red carpet-ready treatments from BABOR Beauty in a secluded setting. Circa 55 restaurant entices guests with locally-sourced cuisine in a stylish setting overlooking the pool, while Trader Vic's Lounge, a Hollywood staple for generations, offers a lively scene with Polynesian flair. For more information, please visit www.beverlyhilton.com or call 310.274.7777.
SOURCE American Humane Association