Olive — Therapy
Location: Jefferson City, Missouri
Olive was rescued from the streets in Los Angeles by Brandon McMillan, host and animal trainer of the Emmy Award winning CBS show, Lucky Dog, Season 4 Episode 6. Lisa Groves Bax, a child advocate volunteer for abused/neglected children in the judicial system in Missouri, saw the need for a resource to assist the scores of children facing the daunting task of appearing or testifying in court. After extensive training with Brandon McMillan, Olive was united with her forever family in Missouri, and ready to live her purpose, certified therapy dog. Olive was tested and evaluated by Therapy Dogs International (TDI).
At no fault of the child, these vulnerable children are facing unknown proceedings because an adult failed to care properly for them. Olive’s mission is to make sure that no child walks alone through the courtroom doors, and provides comfort throughout the unknown journey that the child faces against their abuser or neglecting adult, which in most cases is their very own parent(s).
Olive has served over 300 children since beginning in the court system in 2016, and continues to assist children with extremely difficult criminal trials in order to get a conviction against the abuser. Olive is an American Hero Dog to the children she serves, and deserves to add this title to her endless endeavors advocating for the awareness of child abuse/neglect and serving children in the courtroom.
MacKenzie — Shelter
Location: Hilton, New York
MacKenzie uniquely represents a rescue hero because she went from being a rescue dog to helping hundreds of other rescue dogs. She provides care for baby animals with birth defects as well as educates people (of all ages).
On 12-31-2013, an amazing dog named MacKenzie (Kenz for short) was born with a cleft palate. She was tube fed from day 1 for almost a year and survived bouts of aspiration pneumonia. I have never seen such a will to live. She was sick, but more concerned with the baby animals at the rescue. At almost 1 year, she had her life saving cleft palate surgery. She could eat & drink on her own & focus on what she was born to do.
Most of the animals that we rescue are babies that can’t stay with their mother due to their medical needs. Kenz takes an interest in each baby from day 1 (regardless of species or size). She plays nurse and cleans, comforts, & cuddles them. She also acts as their mom and teaches them how to socialize, play, & have good manners.
Kenzie’s other important hero role is to interact with children at schools so they learn to be open minded toward animals and people with physical differences. They learn kindness, patience, & that you can make a difference in the world no matter how small you are.
Kenz also advocates awareness about animals with disabilities. She may have lost her ability to bark, but she still makes herself heard and speaks for other animals born with a defect. She’s a shining example of how rescue saves more than just one life.
K9 Remington — Search and Rescue
Location: Montgomery, Texas
K9 Remington is more than just a retired search and rescue K9; he is a cancer fighter and survivor, an advocate for dogs to be in the fire service, and for retired K9s. Remi was nationally Certified in Human Remains Detection, and worked many cases across the US with Special K9s SAR. Remi has spent his entire life fighting for those who could not fight by assisting Law Enforcement in locating remains or evidence. His deployments range from missing people, cold cases, and Hurricane Harvey. When not on searches, he was at the New Caney Fire Department and later with Navasota Fire Department. He was a constant figure at public relations events, allowing people to learn about search and rescue, as well as fire safety. He brought comfort to firefighters after long shifts and rough calls.
On June 19, 2019, Remi was medically retired after unexplained lameness. He was diagnosed with a Puerperal Nerve Sheath Tumor. Due to financial burden, and low chances of quality of life, euthanasia was advised. That’s when Jason Johnson, of Project K9 Hero, stepped in. He stated, “You let me worry about the money. Your job is to give Remi the fight he deserves.” Doctors with TAMU Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital were able to save his life. All vet bills were paid by PK9H Donors. He still has cancer and is now a tripod, but he continues to live his life representing Project K9 Hero at events to raise awareness and funding for other retired K9s. Remi is more than a search dog; he is a HERO!
Dolly Pawton — Shelter
Location: Naple, Maine
Dolly Pawton is my Cardiac Alert Dog trained to alert if my blood pressure drops or heart rate rises to an unsafe level. Being confined to a wheelchair due to multiple medical conditions has been difficult, to say the least. At times my body will physically not allow me to do everyday tasks. I try to remain as active as my body will allow, with Dolly’s help I am able to do that.
Before having a service dog, I went out very little but, Dolly changed that. She helps me to function without having to depend on others. Dolly helps in every aspect of my life, including reducing my social anxiety. I was a victim of domestic violence which caused PTSD. I struggled to get out of bed not just because of my health but because my self-confidence was horrible. Because of my fears, it was much easier and safer for me to stay home. People have no idea the pain I was in before Dolly. Living with so many medical issues along with PTSD takes a real toll on me both physically and emotionally. I wake up with nightmares terrified to go back to bed but now I have Dolly right by my side to keep me safe.
Dolly gave me the self-confidence and inspiration to write and illustrate a children’s book called Pawsibly the Best Medicine. It is a biography of Dolly told with a bit of humorous fiction. We bring her book to schools to educate about Service Dogs. She is truly my most crucial medical equipment with a loving, beating heart. I don’t know what I would do without her in my life and she is my hero.
Blue ll P491 — Military
Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia
Blue served our country valiantly from 2011 to 2018. I served as her first handler on my second deployment to Afghanistan, which was her first deployment as an IDD MWD. While deployed Blue and I went on over 300 combat missions. She found many IED’s saving me along with many Marines and Sailors during our deployment. Once we parted ways I vowed to find her and adopt her one day. Six years later she came upon review on her disposition while she was stationed in Okinawa, Japan where she served as a SSD. After seven years of honorable service, she retired in November 2018 and made her way from Japan to Georgia. She’s been enjoying her retirement with my family and I ever since. Blue is our own personal hero and deserves to be recognized as one in her life.
Aura — Guide/Hearing
Location: Brunswick, Maine
Aura is a trained hearing service dog. She became my ears after I lost my hearing in a rocket attack in Afghanistan. I was in despair after my injuries. I needed a helper. What I received was a fur guardian angel. She has restored my independence. I went from being a blown-up deaf person to a person who now feels safe and secure in the world. She never has a day off and I rely on her to keep me safe. She provides me with the confidence I need to interact in the world. She has allowed me to pursue my passions and purpose in life. I have no regrets of losing my hearing, I would trade my ears for Aura any day. She is happy to work for me displaying undying loyalty. She knows I am deaf but loves me anyway. Always by my side, head up and ready for anything. She is my hope. I am forever grateful to her. There is not a medication or a therapy that could do for me what Aura does for me every day.
The photograph of Aura was taken on the very first day I received her. I immediately felt her love flow through her leash right into my heart. She looks at me like I am the best person in the world. We hope to continue to be ambassadors for people with hearing loss. She has changed how I see and feel about the world. Aura is the epitome of a hero; putting others before herself, ensuring my safety over hers and her constant service to me asking nothing in return. We will continue to hike, explore, travel and enjoy all the world has to offer. She is my most sacred companion.
K-9 Cody — Law Enforcement
Location: Newport News, Virginia
K-9 Cody started her career in explosives detection in Iraq working hard to keep US personnel safe at the US Embassy. K-9 Cody was transferred back to the US where she continued her explosives detection career working at the Mall of America. She quickly stood out as a phenomenal K-9, and not just because of her ability to detect explosives, but also because of her calm and loving demeanor.
K-9 Cody was transferred to her current position in Virginia helping to safeguard such places as Busch Gardens, and events for the LPGA, NBA, and the 4th of July Parade in Bristol, Rhode Island. She also helps the local agencies with bomb threats. In her off time, she can be found doing demonstrations at local schools, churches, and festivals. She loves people, and loves to say hi by walking up and leaning against their leg so she can enjoy a bit of scratches behind the ear.
One story that sticks out about Cody, and her gentle spirit, was an incident that happened while she was working at an amusement park doing explosives detection. A young girl, around 8 or 9 years old, was in the park enjoying the day with her family. She was in line for a ride, when another service dog bit her on the leg. She was traumatized and scared. Knowing how gentle Cody is, they called her to the aid station. When Cody saw the little girl, she immediately walked over, licked the girl’s hand then laid at her feet. Almost immediately, the little girl stopped crying, and was soon smiling thanks to Cody.