Chi Chi — Therapy
Charity Partner: Pet Partners
Sponsor: Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Chi Chi is a quadruple amputee who is inspiring people all over the world. She was left for dead in South Korea where she was found in a garbage bag with her legs bound, worn to the bone and already necrotized. The only way to save her life was to amputate portions of all 4 of her legs. When she first arrived at our home, she was afraid of people, but with time and lots of love and grace, she realized that she is safe and no one will ever hurt her again. She forgave and decided to trust people again. She quickly adapted to her first set of custom prosthetics and now loves spending her days as a certified Therapy Dog sharing her joy and cheerful demeanor with people of all ages. Recently, she had surgery to remove cancer tumors, so she is a cancer survivor.
When people meet Chi Chi, they are inspired by her courage, perseverance, ability to overcome adversity and her never give up attitude. She exemplifies resilience and forgiveness and openly shares her love and compassion in abundance. Her sweet-tempered and gentle spirit opens people’s hearts and her perceptive spirit senses where her love is needed. When people hear Chi Chi’s story and experience her attitude of joy, they are often inspired to face their challenges with renewed courage and a fresh perspective. Chi Chi brings joy everywhere she goes and her optimism and smile spreads quickly to others. She positively impacts thousands of people all over the world via her online Therapy work through her social media account.
Frances — Guide/Hearing
Charity Partner: Guiding Eyes for the Blind
Location: Staten Island, New York
At the age of 32, I lost my eyesight from a rare complication after battling breast cancer. Over the next 6 months, I would have to relearn everything from crossing the street to sorting laundry. Then, the universe threw me the ultimate curveball – I found out I was pregnant! When people asked me how I planned on traveling with me baby, I responded, “I’m going to get a guide dog.”
In September of 2016, Guiding Eyes for the Blind matched with me with Frances, a female yellow Labrador. Since then, “Franny” and I have become partners in both parenting and advocacy work for visually impaired parents.
Now the mother of 2 daughters, I depend on Frances to help guide me to pre-school, doctor’s appointments and extracurricular activities.
When “Franny” is not helping me meet the demands of motherhood, she accompanies me to help educate kids through our Visually Impaired Education Program (VIEP). Aimed at grades K-2, V.I.E.P. ’s mission is to engage school-aged children through classroom interaction with the blind/visually impaired community; helping diminish stereotypes associated with blindness. Frances attends every presentation, a beautiful reminder about the important work of guide dogs.
I believe Frances deserves to be the American Hero Guide Dog because her partnership allows me to be the woman I want to be. She helps me juggle all that comes with being a working mom while educating our community about living with vision loss.
K-9 Flash — Law Enforcement/Arson
Charity Partner: K9s4Cops
Sponsor: K-9 Courage Program from Zoetis
Location: Detroit, Michigan
K-9 Flash was found in an animal shelter when she was only 9 months old. She was picked up on the streets of Everett, WA, with no home, no name, and no family. We were starting a Narcotics K-9 course at the Washington State Patrol Academy in Sept of 2005, when we were evaluating dogs in shelters who possess a good hunt, air scent, retrieve, and prey drive. Flash excelled in all of those areas, so we took a chance on her and included her in the class just one day before she was to be euthanized. Once she had her chance, Flash excelled in Narcotics detection and graduated as the only dog to score 100% on her certification. She was assigned as the first Narcotics K-9 on Patrol at the Yakima Police Dept. while assisting to two DEA Narcotics Task Force Teams, Regional SWAT Team, and the Patrol Division, K-9 Flash had over 3000 deployments in her career with over 2200 Narcotic related finds and seizures.
When Flash retired in 2013, she was just getting started. Because of her fortitude of surviving and her will to be so successful, she inspired her handler to start a national nonprofit to take care of retired K-9 Heroes like her with medical assistance, food, and end of duty services. Most people don’t know that when K-9 Heroes like Flash retire they lose all funding from the agencies they served. Therefore in 2016, K-9 Flash was the sole inspiration for the start of Project K-9 Hero, she now has her own children’s book and travels the nation reading it at schools inspiring children.
Roxy - PTSD Service Dog — Service
Charity Partner: Paws and Stripes
Sponsor: Modern Dog Magazine
Location: Canton, North Carolina
Hello everyone, my name is Justin. I am a disabled veteran from the Iraq war. I was deployed to Iraq, as an US Army Infantry soldier. While in Baghdad during my 2006 deployment, I was blown up an IED. I now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Once I was out of the military, I received Roxy for a PTSD Service Dog, she is fully trained from Off leash K9 training Asheville NC. Roxy is trained in basic and advanced obedience, with three Canine Good Citizenship Awards. Roxy has been tasked trained to indicate on my anxiety, so she can help alert me before the PTSD gets to out of control. She helps provide a distraction, so I can concentrate on something else besides the PTSD. She helps me on a daily basis with simple life tasks. If it wasn’t for her showing me that it’s okay to be in society, I probably wouldn’t be here today.
I take Roxy to our local VA hospital to help share Roxy’s ability to other Veterans. We enjoy bringing happiness and joy to the Veterans of the VA. Most people have never seen a pitbull as a service dog, but once they meet Roxy and see what she does, you can tell how much they really enjoy meeting her. We really hope Roxy can be the next top Hero Dog, to help continue too show the world that Pitbulls are good dogs, but also amazing Service Dogs. We appreciate your time in reading our story, please help Roxy get to the top! Thank you for your support. God bless our Troops and our Veterans! Until they all come home.
Ruby — Search and Rescue
Charity Partner: National Search Dog Alliance
Location: East Greenwich, Rhode Island
October of 2017, Ruby, now six years on the job as a Rhode State Police K-9. A teenage boy had gone missing from his home in the Town of Gloucester. After about 36 hours and failed attempts by human search efforts, the Gloucetser Police department requested the services of the Rhode Island State Police K-9 Division. K-9 Ruby and I answered the call and responded along with other K-9 teams to scene. As part of normal protocol, I briefly interviewed the victim’s mother. During the conversation, it was revealed that the victim’s mother was Patricia Inmann. Patricia Inman revealed that she had volunteered her services working with Ruby six years ago at the RISPCA and fostered her each time she was returned.
After hours of searching, K-9 Ruby and I were ultimately successful in finding the missing teenager, but unfortunately he was found in grave medical condition. State Police and EMS services removed the boy from the scene and transported him to a local hospital where he made a full recovery. If it were not for the effort of the State Police and especially K-9 Ruby, that young boy’s life may have been lost.
You can think what you may, but I believe that was Ruby’s way of saying thank you to Ms. Inman for taking care of her during her rough beginning. Ruby was given a chance at life and ended up saving a life. With the efforts of two organizations (RISP and RISPCA) and a handful of amazing and dedicated people, great things can happen. Ruby is also featured in a soon to be released award-winning film, which documents her rescue, her rigorous training to become a certified Search & Rescue K9 and her first official searches with her handler, Daniel O’Neil.
Sgt. Fieldy — Military
Charity Partner: SD Gunner Fund
Sponsor: K-9 Courage Program from Zoetis
Location: McAllen, Texas
Sgt. Fieldy is an 11yr old black lab with a heart and energy of a 3yr old that served in the U.S. Marine Corps and retired in August 2014. I his handler CPL Nicolas, met him in South Carolina and was part of a group of specialized units formed to combat the number one threat in Afghanistan, IEDs. We were deployed to Afghan in Feb. 2011. We both experienced first-hand the effects of the IED when a vehicle struck a pressure plate during a patrol and injured the occupants in the MATV. Knowing that we were both targets for insurgent observers, we worked tirelessly to detect explosives. He alerted me and found yet another IED, a 60lb plastic barrel containing homemade explosives. During our deployment, he found several more IEDs and their components which helped save countless of lives during our tour. After deployment, he was taken back for refitting and training and I returned home. I later found out that Fieldy deployed two more times to Afghanistan and continued to find more IEDs and save many more lives. After serving 4 tours, on Aug. 7, 2014, with the help of American Humane Association, I was finally able to adopt him. Since then he has very much enjoyed his retirement. In Nov. 2014 he participated in the Veterans Day Parade in NYC. He has made a life changing impact to my life. He is my hero!
Willow — Emerging Hero
Charity Partner: Pilots N Paws
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Willow is a survivor of the S. Korean dog meat trade. His owners turned him into the slaughterhouse because he was old. Neglected, with cut ears, matted hair, a mouth of bad teeth and an infected tongue, he was allowed rescue because he “didn’t offer much meat”. He was a lucky one. Arriving Sept 2016, Willow is spreading awareness on social media and making public appearances to educate people on animal welfare topics (incl. the dog and cat meat trade) through non-traumatic and non-graphic ways and presenting resources to help more of his 4-legged friends.
Willow travels internationally in foam board form and poses with trade survivors. His campaign, “I Am Willow I Am Not Food” raises flight funds for dogs. He is the mascot for a newly created Animal Rights Club at a local school helping students advocate for change in the classroom and aiding their school in becoming the first vegan option cafeteria in the State. We are developing educational tools to use as an animal welfare speaker series for schools and conferences. He is also getting therapy dog certification to spread awareness to disabled children through animal related books/reading programs. Willow is a voice and inspiration leader for millions of animals not just those subjected to the dog and cat meat trade. People listen, learn and respond to Willow. He is a solution for raising awareness. Willow is an EMERGING HERO who will grow that status into something to make a lifelong paw print in the animal welfare world.