WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Political analysts have been anticipating a dramatic "October Surprise," and now, in the most closely watched campaign in the nation, that surprise is about to be unveiled. On October 28, the results of nearly a million public votes and the deliberations of an expert celebrity panel will be broadcast nationwide to the American people, revealing the winner of the 2016 American Humane Hero Dog Awards™, presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation and airing as a two-hour special on Hallmark Channel at 8 pm ET/PT, 7 pm CT. The program will air as part of Hallmark Channel's Pet Project, the network's cross-platform advocacy campaign designed to celebrate the joy and enrichment animals bring to our lives.
"The American Humane Hero Dog Awards were created to honor some of the most extraordinary heroes the world has ever known, the very best of our best friends," said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane, the country's first national humane organization and the first to serve the interests of animals in virtually every area. "These courageous canines have gone above and beyond the call of duty, saving lives on the battlefield, comforting the ill, aged and afflicted, bringing hope to those who have lost it, and reminding us of the powerful, age-old bond between animals and people."
"It is an honor to support an effort to recognize the valor of our 'best friends,'" said philanthropist Lois Pope, who has been the awards' presenting sponsor for five years. "From those who defend our country to those who help us heal, guide us, protect us, and help find the lost, every single contender exemplifies the courage and heroism we seek to spotlight in the Hero Dog Awards campaign. Through this national forum we help educate America about the lifesaving, life-affirming work of our nation's canine heroes."
Eight courageous canines who each took top honors in their individual categories from a field of 173 initial nominees will appear and be profiled for their heroic exploits in improving and saving lives. Then the top American Hero Dog for 2016 will named, capping the star-studded awards gala hosted by Beth Stern and James Denton at the Beverly Hilton and featuring special performances by Katharine McPhee.
Meet the Eight Remarkable Hero Dog Awards finalists
Arson Dogs category (sponsored by State Farm®)
Judge (Allentown, PA) – Allentown Fire Department Arson K9 Judge is a seven-year old yellow Labrador retriever who has been in service since early 2011. His handler says Judge is a more vocal than the other arson dogs, but he attributes it to Judge's outgoing personality and drive to work. Judge is a well-rounded K-9 who thrives in three major areas: investigation, deterrence, and education. As an investigator, Judge has worked more than 275 fire scenes and during that time, evidence he has found has led to multiple criminal arrests and civil penalties for insurance fraud cases. As a deterrent, the numbers speak for themselves – the number of arson fires has dropped 52.7 percent since Judge has been in service with the City of Allentown. As an educator, Judge has been in more than 500 fire safety programs and demonstrations for crime watch groups, specialty dog shows, elementary and high school programs, and everything in between. He is now part of a pilot program with autistic children to provide them with lifesaving information. He has been instrumental in making the entire Lehigh Valley and neighboring communities more aware of fire safety.
Guide/Hearing Dogs category (sponsored by Clover Stornetta Farms, the official "Mootastic" sponsor of the 2016 Hero Dog Awards)
Hook (Sacramento, CA) – Hook is a 12-pound, 10-year-old hearing dog and goes almost everywhere with his handler. Three years ago the pair was in downtown Sacramento crossing a street. A train was coming that she could not hear because of her impairment. As she was approaching and crossing the track Hook started jumping on her and she did not know why; she could not figure out what he wanted. Then, she stopped and saw people on the street motioning to her. Hook saw the danger ahead that she was not aware of and pulled her from the track. She turned around not knowing why Hook reacted that way, but then saw the train. It had missed her by a foot. Another time a prowler broke into her office when she was in the back room. Scared and sensing a presence in her waiting room, she suddenly saw Hook bolting down the hallway, growling and chasing away the intruder. Hook's handler is a family therapist and Hook sits beside her chair while she listens to and helps patients. She says that "the amazing thing about Hook is he is not only sensitive to my needs but to the needs of others. When he sees a patient in distress or crying he will leave our chair, go sit in the patient's lap and lick their tears. He has brought smiles to many children, teens, and adults in our practice. Hook is everyone's hero not just mine."
Emerging Hero Dogs category (sponsored by Merial, maker of NexGard® (afoxolaner) Chewables)
Hooch (Tehachapi, CA) – Hooch is a French Mastiff with badly cropped ears, a broken tail, no tongue, and a bright spirit. Zach Skow, of Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue, learned about him from a shelter in Bakersfield, and was told that the dog would not eat or drink, and would instead thrash his food and water bowls around "like a maniac." He was 35 pounds underweight – starving, dehydrated, and severely malnourished. Never thinking to check for a missing tongue, they thought he might have a broken or dislocated jaw that was causing his behavior. When taken to the vet, he was sedated to ready him for x-rays, and the gruesome discovery was made: Hooch's tongue had been savagely removed at its base, likely in an attempt to prime him for the role of a bait dog. Hooch kept removing his feeding tube, but he took well to being hand-fed. He tilts his head back while his owner takes a handful of food and places it in the back of Hooch's throat, letting gravity do the rest. Hooch stands for overcoming adversity, bravery and living in the moment. He spends many hours with Marley's Mutts' Miracle Mutts division serving as a therapy dog. He works with autistic, abused and special needs children. Hooch shows patience and kindness, is proof that anything can be overcome, and is a great mascot for bravery.
Law Enforcement Dogs category (sponsored by the RIMADYL K-9 Courage Program™ from Zoetis)
K-9 Edo (Los Angeles, CA) – On 1/1/16 LAPD units went into pursuit of two suspects wanted for robbery and murder. Suspect-2 exited, carjacked and shot two occupants of another vehicle. Suspect-2 crashed and ran into a house occupied by a father and three sons. Suspect-2 stabbed the father in his face but he was able to escape. Gunshots rang inside. It was believed Suspect-2 shot the children. An immediate entry/rescue team was established. K9 units arrived on scene. A plan was formulated to rescue the children. K-9 Officer Huynh and K-9 Edo were deployed to make entry into the house and possibly engage Suspect-2. As the team approached they were shot at through the door and they began to take more gunfire. The door was breached as Huynh targeted K9-Edo who entered the house. Another gunshot was heard and K-9 personnel entered. Both boys were shot inside. Edo saw the two young victims but turned to engage Suspect-2 instead. Suspect-2 then shot himself in the head. Edo pulled Suspect-2 away from the gun. It was discovered that Suspect-2 began shooting the children when his pistol jammed. When he cleared his malfunction, the officers arrived at the door and Suspect-2 started shooting at the K9 Officers instead. Undoubtedly, K9-Edo's actions saved the entire K-9 team. Both boys survived. Suspect-2 died.
Military Dogs category (sponsored by the RIMADYL K-9 Courage Program™ from Zoetis)
Layka (Galena, KS) – In May 2012 Layka's team was assaulting an enemy compound in an Afghan village, receiving direct rifle fire from the compound. Apache helicopters and Hellfires were brought in to help. Layka was sent into search for injured or live combatants and explosives. Once inside, she engaged an enemy combatant while taking four rounds from an AK-47 to the right shoulder area. Her handler removed her from the building and headed to a predetermined point for extraction where the medics started working on her. She was flown to a base where her right leg was removed and she was prepped for transport to Germany. Once in Germany she underwent more surgery to remove and repair her shoulder and triceps. She was moved to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas to fully recover and was medically retired in August of 2012.
Search and Rescue Dogs category (sponsored by American Airlines, the Official Airline Sponsor of the 2016 Hero Dog Awards)
Kobuk (York, ME) – Kobuk is a certified search and rescue dog and a member of the volunteer, non-profit Maine Search & Rescue Dogs team. One of his most successful finds was locating a 77-year-old diabetic with dementia, who had been missing for two nights in the Maine woods without food, water, or her medications. Kobuk's mission was incredibly time-sensitive. After hours of searching, on the third morning Kobuk's nose went up into the air, and he took off running two-tenths of a mile to locate her. Kobuk sprinted back to his handler, gave a loud bark (the signal that he had found her), then turned back around and bolted back to the elderly woman with his handler in pursuit. Thankfully, she was found in time to save her life. Kobuk searches with enthusiasm, never quits while someone is still lost in the woods, and he loves to give kids his signature "Kobuk-kisses."
Service Dogs category (sponsored by Modern Dog)
Gander (Great Lakes, IL) – Gander was saved from a Colorado shelter, and was rescued by a women's prison program in Denver, Colorado for obedience training. He was then trained by Freedom Service Dogs in Englewood, Colorado. It was there in September 2012 that his handler and Gander became a team. They have not spent one day apart since then and he credits Gander with literally saving his life. In 2014, Gander was the first mixed breed dog to win the American Kennel Club "Award for Canine Excellence." Gander is on a mission. He travels the United States – 36 states so far – to encourage education and awareness for PTS, veteran suicide, service dogs, and persons with visible and invisible disabilities. While traveling, the team performs Planned Acts of Community Kindness (PACKS), and fundraising. They have been instrumental in helping to raise a million dollars for numerous veterans' groups, veterans, service dog charities, and individuals in need. They sponsored the country's first service dog education conference, and have given hundreds of presentations to schools and community organizations. The team created a collection of inspirational dog stories entitled, "In Dogs We Trust." They love to visit hospitals, USOs and community events as service dog ambassadors.
Therapy Dogs category (sponsored by Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food, the Official Pet Food sponsor of the 2016 Hero Dog Awards)
Mango (Las Cruces, NM) – Mango is a four-year-old paralyzed rescue who was homeless, hit by a car, and scheduled for euthanasia. Emma's Cleft Palate Chihuahua Rescue pulled Mango from a shelter, nursed her back to health and placed her in a program called Emma's Rescue Reserve. This program was created to place paralyzed dogs with owners so they could work with disabled veterans who suffer from physical disabilities and show them that if a small dog in a wheelchair can overcome her handicap, then so can they. The comfort Mango brings them teaches that "disabled" is only a word and words should never stop our ability to overcome a life-altering, physical change no matter what the handicap may be. Mango also helps other disabled pets through "Mango's Freedom Wheels," which purchases wheelchairs for them. Thanks to generous donations, the group has purchased more than 150 custom-built wheelchairs to help other animals regain their ability to be mobile again. She has put cats, dogs, and even a mini-horse and pig into wheelchairs so they can experience the freedom of standing and running once more.
Each of the eight finalists win $2,500 for their designated charity partner and the winning 2016 American Hero Dog's charity partner receives an additional $5,000 for a grand total of $7,500. Each charity partner is dedicated to celebrating and strengthening the roles of dogs in our lives, and like American Humane, focuses on the importance of the human-animal bond.
Over the past four years, millions of votes have been cast for nearly a thousand dogs, all seeking the coveted title of American Hero Dog. The program reaches more than 1 billion people each year and draws the support and participation of top celebrity dog lovers from all over the world. This year, celebrity stars and awards presenters include Pauley Perrette, Alison Sweeney, Barbara Niven, Mark Steines, Bailee Madison, Marilu Henner, Victoria Stilwell, Debbie Matenopoulous, Greg Louganis, Adam Rodriguez, Alex Meneses, Brandon McMillan, Robert Herjavec, Kym Johnson, Jack Wagner, Dave Foley, and Dr. Marty Becker. Mary Matalin and James Carville, as well as Hero Dog Awards spokes-dog Happy the Dog provided delightful pre-taped video skits. Judges include Victoria Stilwell, Jennifer Arnold, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Prince Lorenzo Borghese, Philippe and Ashlan Gorse Cousteau, Joanne Horowitz, Blake Koch, Bailee Madison, Adrienne Maloof, Agent Jerry Means, Laura Nativo, Shara Strand, Lisa Vanderpump, and Lou Wegner.
Heroes Who Save and Keep Our Hero Pets Healthy Also Honored
Behind every hero pet is a hero vet or vet tech. Each year at the Hero Dog Awards, American Humane also announces the winners of its Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards™, sponsored by the leading animal health company Zoetis.
"Our 293 nominated Hero Veterinarians and Hero Veterinary Technicians are all outstanding examples of the veterinary community," said J. Michael McFarland, DVM, DABVP, group director, Companion Animal Marketing at Zoetis. "The American Humane Hero Veterinarian and Veterinary Technician Awards are Zoetis' way of giving back to the heroes who keep our best friends healthy, and also celebrate the human-animal bond."
"To us, all vets and vet techs are heroes," said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. "Behind every hero dog is a hero vet and vet tech, so what better time to honor these extraordinary veterinary professionals than the night in which we celebrate America's bravest heroes on both ends of the leash, the 2016 American Humane Dog Awards?!"
About American Humane
American Humane is the country's first national humane organization, founded in 1877. For more information, please visit www.americanhumane.org. To inquire about Hero Dog Awards sponsorship opportunities, please email Mari Harner at email@example.com.
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 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. For more than 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, and a groundbreaking new program with American Humane in Palm Beach County. Lois Pope has recently donated two Lois Pope Red Star 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 the region.
Mrs. Pope recently saw the completion of a decade's long dream – the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, which was dedicated by President Obama in Washington, DC on Sunday, October 5, 2014. The Memorial will forever stand as a reminder to the public and legislators of the courage and sacrifices of the four million living disabled veterans and all those who died before them for the need to be vigilant in assuring their support, as well as being aware of the human cost of war.
A mother and a grandmother, Lois has trained for and completed five New York City Marathons.
About Hallmark Channel
Hallmark Channel is Crown Media Family Networks' flagship 24-hour cable television network, distributed nationwide in high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) to 90 million homes. As the country's leading destination for quality family entertainment, Hallmark Channel delivers on the 100-year legacy of the Hallmark brand. In addition to its signature new, original movies, the network features an ambitious lineup of other new, original content, including scripted primetime series, such as "Good Witch," "When Calls the Heart" and "Chesapeake Shores"; annual specials including "Kitten Bowl" and "Hero Dog Awards"; and a daily, two-hour lifestyle show, "Home & Family." Additionally, Hallmark Channel is the exclusive home to world premiere presentations of the acclaimed Hallmark Hall of Fame franchise. Dedicated to helping viewers celebrate life's special moments, Hallmark Channel also offers annual holiday programming franchises, including "Countdown to Christmas," "Countdown to Valentine's Day," "Summer Nights," "Fall Harvest" and "Winterfest." Rounding out the network's diverse slate are some of television's most beloved comedies and series, including "The Golden Girls," "The Middle," "Last Man Standing," and "Frasier."
Hallmark Cards, Inc. owns and operates Crown Media Family Networks.
Zoetis (zô-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. Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in more than 100 countries. In 2015, the company generated annual revenue of $4.8 billion with approximately 9,000 employees. For more information, visit www.zoetis.com.
About State Farm®
The mission of State Farm is to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams. State Farm and its affiliates are the largest providers of auto, home and individual life insurance in the United States. Its 18,000 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve more than 83 million policies and accounts – nearly 81 million auto, home, life, health and commercial policies, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 35 on the 2016 Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com.
About Merial, maker of NexGard® (afoxolaner) Chewables
Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health and well-being of a wide range of animals. Merial employs 6,600 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide with over €2 billion of sales in 2014. Merial has three main business areas: pets, farm animals, and veterinary public health. Our pharmaceuticals and vaccines focus on disease prevention and overall health and wellness in animals, and target more than 200 diseases and conditions across a variety of species.
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-tos, 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 Pet Food
Chicken Soup for the Soul understands the unique relationship between people and pets. Health conscious consumers have been feeding their cats and dogs Chicken Soup for the Soul wholesome and balanced, super premium pet food for over a decade. Holistic in nature, the entire line of products is made from only the finest ingredients: real meats (chicken, turkey, duck and salmon), fruits, vegetables and herbs. With no added corn, wheat, soy, artificial coloring, flavoring or preservatives, Chicken Soup for the Soul pet food is inspired by your love for pets, and promotes overall health and well-being for dogs and cats. The products are proudly made in the USA, and feature rescued shelter pets on every bag. Core and grain-free formulas are available in independent pet specialty stores nationwide and online, with a new line of treats launching in August 2016.
A portion of all proceeds from the sale of Chicken Soup for the Soul pet food goes to help shelters and pets in need through Chicken Soup for the Soul's Fill a Bowl … Feed a Soul program. The program which was launched in association with the American Humane aims to provide a million meals to shelter pets in 2016. www.chickensouppets.com
About Clover Stornetta Farms
Celebrating its centennial anniversary, third-generation family owned and operated Clover Stornetta Farms is recognized as a leader at the forefront of the dairy industry. The Petaluma-based company in California's beautiful Sonoma County was the first dairy in the United States to become American Humane Certified and hold its partnership of family-owned dairy farms to a higher standard by developing its own unique North Coast Excellence Certified program. Clover is proud to bring clean, rBST-free and delicious dairy products direct from our farms to health conscious consumers. The company's passionate support of animal welfare, sustainable business practice, and local community are hallmarks of the business. For more information, please visit http://cloverpetaluma.com and join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.
About American Airlines Group
American Airlines and American Eagle offer an average of nearly 6,700 flights per day to nearly 350 destinations in more than 50 countries. American has hubs in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. American is a founding member of the oneworld alliance, whose members and members-elect serve nearly 1,000 destinations with 14,250 daily flights to 150 countries. Shares of American Airlines Group Inc. trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol AAL. In 2015, its stock joined the S&P 500 index. Connect with American on Twitter @AmericanAir and at Facebook.com/AmericanAirlines.
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SOURCE American Humane