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American Humane Associations Hero Dog Awards - 2012 Finalists

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Emerging Hero Dogs Category:
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Daniel
Category: Emerging Hero Dogs
Location: Nutley, New Jersey
Charity Partner: Pine Street Foundation (Canine Cancer Detection)

“Gas chambers” represent an outdated method of destroying homeless animals. Many people do not realize that such methods of destroying homeless dogs and cats are still employed today. Each year, millions of homeless dogs and cats are euthanized through this cruel process. Rarely has any animal survived a gas chamber. However, in October 2011, from a gas chamber in an Alabama animal shelter, this unbelievable survival story became reality for Daniel the beagle. Through improbable odds, Daniel was still wagging his tail after the gas chamber that he was locked in killed eighteen other dogs. The animal control officer responsible for operating the gas chamber could not bear the thought of a second attempt at ending the life of this remarkable little dog. Daniel was put up for adoption and quickly spirited to a foster home in Tennessee where he was named after the Biblical survivor of the lion’s den. Next, with the help of Pilots and Paws, New Jersey based Eleventh Hour Rescue brought Daniel to New Jersey where the Dwyer Family of Nutley adopted him into a forever home. Daniel has taken nicely to the fun-loving life of a dog in a house with four other dogs. However, Daniel has also become quite the celebrity with appearances on local, national, and worldwide news outlets, highlighted by an exciting appearance on Anderson Cooper Live. Such renown has brought Daniel the opportunity to make a difference. Daniel’s adorable face and affable personality have made him a hero dog to thousands of his other canine brothers and sisters as he has become an advocate for shelter adoptions and anti-gassing laws in various state legislatures. "Daniel's Law" will soon be passed in Pennsylvania to outlaw the use of the gas chamber. Daniel is supporting the Pine Street Foundation, whose mission is to help people with cancer reach more informed treatment decisions through education and research. The organization’s research program also supports and informs its education programs by publishing the results of its work in reputable medical journals, and with that, the Pine Street Foundation is able to make the results of its efforts widely available to other researches, practitioners, and patients. The Pine Street Foundation's program includes ground-breaking research in Canine Scent Detection, where they have trained dogs to identify the smell of breast and lung cancer on patients' breath.

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Military Dogs Category: Gabe
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Gabe
Category: Military Dogs
Location: Columbia, South Carolina
Charity Partner: United States War Dog Association

Gabe began his service to the United States of America as a Military Working Dog in 2006 and as such has had an impact not only on the life of Charles Shuck, his handler, but indeed American soldiers around the world. Gabe has been stationed from Fort Lewis, Washington, to Fort Bliss, Texas, to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and Fort Hood, Texas. He is an American Hero Dog. While deployed to Iraq, he completed over 210 combat missions with 26 finds of explosives and weapons. When Gabe is not leading a combat mission he frequently visited wounded troops in Army hospitals and he visited school children in elementary schools. Gabe was selected as the American Kennel Club Heroic Military Working Dog in 2008 and was the runner up in the American Humane Association Military Working Dog category for the 2011 Hero Dog Awards. Gabe retired in 2009 after a very distinguished career earning over 40 awards and coins of excellence for his work. What he does is out of a love for his country and the people of the United States. Gabe continues to visit schools and inspire children with compassion and respect and the importance of staying in school. Gabe will proudly represent the U.S. Military Police for many years to come. Gabe is competing for the United States War Dog Association, Inc., a nonprofit organization of former and current U.S. Military Dog handlers and supporting members committed to promoting the long history of the Military Service Dogs, establishing permanent War Dog Memorials, and educating the public about the invaluable service of these dogs to our country.

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Service Dogs Category: Holly
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Holly
Category: Service Dogs
Location: Magna, Utah
Charity Partner:International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP)

Holly is my amazing 11-year-old seizure alert and response service dog. The bond and partnership with Holly has changed my life, and saved it on multiple occasions. Because of having Holly, I was able to graduate from college. Together we have traveled the country. I am so thankful for Holly every day we find ways to give back to the community by supporting charity fundraising efforts. Together, Holly and I have raised over $6,000 for different causes and charities in the past year alone. We have also gone to elementary schools to teach children about Service Dogs. Holly is beyond amazing, she is my Hero Dog! Holly is supporting the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP), a nonprofit organization founded in 1993 by disabled persons to foster the assistance dog movement through its networking publication, Partners Forum, conference workshops, an informative website and other education, advocacy and peer support initiatives. Reducing the financial burden of partnership on the most impoverished segment of society is another important goal. IAADP works with generous corporate partners and other benefactors to help members to maintain the health of their guide, hearing and service dogs through donated products and discounts. IAADP also fundraises in order to provide a grant of financial aid to help “Save a Partnership” in cases where a beloved assistance dog develops a major veterinary problem that is treatable, but the disabled person can’t afford the surgery or other recommended treatment which could enable their working partnership to continue.

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Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs Category: Jynx
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Jynx
Category: Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs
Location: Shillington, Pennsylvania
Charity Partner:K9s4COPs

On June 29, 2011, Berks County Deputy Sheriff K-9 Handler Kyle Pagerly was shot and killed while attempting to execute a warrant. As they ascended a mountain to locate the suspect, Deputy Pagerly and his K-9 partner Jynx, came upon an elevation in the terrain. The suspect, who was dressed in full camouflage and possessed multiple weapons, lay on the ridge undetected by the human officers. Jynx alerted to position of the suspect and ran up the hill, ahead of the Deputy Sherriff, forcing the suspect to abandon his cover. As he stood, the suspect pointed a rifle at Deputy Sherriff Pagerly. Gunfire started and Deputy Sherriff Pagerly was fatally wounded. Jynx attempted to pull Deputy Sherriff Pagerly down the mountain to safety. Jynx also attempted to move another officer who was rendering assistance to Deputy Sherriff Pagerly out of harm’s way. If it would not have been for the brave actions of Jynx, many other officers would have lost their lives that day. Jynx is a Hero Dog in every way. Jynx and Deputy Sherriff Pagerly performed hundreds of police dog and safety demonstrations throughout the county. They had a very special bond that will never be forgotten by the citizens of this community. Now retired, Jynx continues his legacy by unofficially making public appearances and warming the hearts of many. Jynx lives with Kyle’s wife and their new born baby girl. Kyle’s wife was only a few weeks pregnant with their first child when Kyle was killed in the line of duty. Kyle was only 28 years old. Jynx is supporting K9s4COPs, on the front lines of keeping families and our communities safe, no team provides a more potent one-two punch than police officers partnered with trained law enforcement K-9s. Trained for specific tasks, these highly intelligent dogs stop criminals in the act, catch fleeing fugitives, sniff out illegal drugs and cash, and participate in search-and-rescue missions. They find bodies, bombs, and the cause of fires. They even save their partners’ lives, sometimes at the cost of their own.

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Search and Rescue Dogs Category: Soot
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Soot
Category: Search and Rescue Dogs
Location: Charleston, West Virginia
Charity Partner:Sage Foundation For Dogs Who Serve

Lorrie adopted Soot, a black Labrador, and quickly realized he needed a job. Lorrie never dreamed finding Soot a job would lead the dog to rescuing a lost 78-year-old, diabetic hunter one cold December morning. Soot is an air scent, scent discriminating, certified search and rescue dog trained to find lost subjects in the wilderness. The hunter left early November 30th for a day of hunting with his son, they separated and planned to meet back at their truck around noon. The dad failed to return, the son searched for hours, until near dark the son called 911 for help. Soot and Lorrie arrived on site late November 30th. A scent article was used from the hunter’s coat. They searched one area around the hunter’s truck, and then were directed to a second location, a remote mountaintop in Logan County, West Virginia. Here Soot picked up the hunter’s scent, leading the searchers several miles away where the hunter was located at 5:30 a.m., December 1st, five miles from his truck. After confirming the lost hunter was okay Lorrie happily rewarded Soot with his tennis ball (all Soot wants when finding a subject at training is a green tennis ball - they call it having a "party" so Soot will realize what a good job he has done). Needless to say, there was lots of "partying" on the mountain that morning. Lorrie and Soot want to thank WV K-9 Search and Rescue and local volunteers for their help in locating this gentleman. Soot is definitely a Hero Dog! Soot is supporting The Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve, the charity created by last year’s winning Search and Rescue Dog Sage! The Sage Foundation recognizes that many dogs provide hard, dangerous and loyal service beside their human handlers in wars, crime prevention, and both natural and man-made disasters. When these dogs are injured or fall ill, often as a direct result of their work, their services are terminated their fate is often uncertain. Some dogs are simply retired and if they are lucky enough to be adopted, the adoptive owner is faced with the cost of medical care for these dogs. The Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve’s mission is to promote the welfare of dogs who have faithfully served (often in harm’s way) in wars, police work, crime prevention, and rescue efforts through education and increased public awareness.

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Therapy Dogs Category: Stella
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Stella
Category: Therapy Dogs
Location: Mt. Kisco, New York
Charity Partner:Angel On A Leash

It is with great pleasure that I am nominating Stella Lenore Levy to receive a Hero Dog Award. Richmond Community Services is a not-for-profit organization that serves people with developmental disabilities and critical health problems with residences, day programs, and respite programs. Richmond is committed to providing enjoyable activities for the people we support, just as a family would provide for its loved ones. I am Stacy Lynn Rivera, the volunteer program specialist for Richmond Community Services, and I am submitting Stella’s nomination. Stella, a standard poodle, was certified by Therapy Dogs International in July 2011. Stella began volunteering soon after at our largest residence that houses 76 people who have significant intellectual, medical, and physical disabilities. Stella brought about many smiles and stimulation not otherwise available. Stella is impervious to disabilities and diseases – befriending and with time, unconditionally loving everyone she meets. One touching anecdote I was witness to makes Stella a Hero Dog! Stella visited a new Richmond residential facility for the first time in January 2012. She walked around and was introduced to everyone. As Stella lay on one gentleman’s lap, he began to pet her and answered yes to questions including: Is Stella soft? Can you feel her heartbeat? Does he enjoy Stella’s company? When Stella moved to another room, this gentleman began to cry surprising the staff, who said they had never seen him cry before. Stella returned to him, jumped back into his lap and he began to kiss her saying “mine.” No more tears were shed. Stella visits this gentleman every Saturday morning and the staff jokes that Stella has a boyfriend. As a result of the fast track stardom Stella obtained at Richmond Community Services, we asked her owner to visit more facilities. Currently, we are lucky to have Stella visit twelve times every week at nine different programs and homes. I am also thrilled to include that Stella Lenore Levy earned the prestigious title of TDI Gold on the 29th of February 2012. Stella truly is a miracle with four paws! Stella and her team are supporting Angel On A Leash, a unique organization in the field of therapy dogs and animal assisted interactions. Angel On A Leash works to create and support a therapy dog program unique to each facility, a program that meets the needs of its clients and patients training the human partner of the team, who drives the experience and must be the guiding hand for the team and protecting the dogs as they work, emphasizing that the safety and health of the dog is a top priority. Angel On A Leash champions working with therapy dogs in health care facilities, schools, rehabilitation, hospice, extended care, correctional facilities, and crisis intervention. Through advocacy, education, research and service, Angel On A Leash promotes the role of the human-animal bond in enhancing human health and quality of life.

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Tabitha
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Tabitha
Category: Guide Dogs
Location: South Bend, Indiana
Charity Partner:Leader Dogs For The Blind

Tabitha was my first Guide Dog, I obtained her from Leader Dogs for the Blind in 2004. Although now retired, she was and always will be my Hero Dog. Tabby Girl, as I called her, was the one that not only comforted me through the shock and depression of losing my sight, she welcomed me into a new life. By her love and skills, she showed me that life was still the same, I could still go and accomplish things, I just needed to go about some things a bit differently. It was with the new found courage that I gained from Tabby Girl’s guidance that I continued to experience so much in life. I completed both my undergraduate and graduate studies with her by my side. I overcame the fear of "the dark." I learned to trust myself once again, as well as others. There were so many things that she did over the years for me too numerous to mention in this short essay. Suffice it to say, Tabby Girl saved my life, not only physically, but emotionally, and mentally as well. Without Tabby Girl, showing me the way to my new life, I really don't know where I would be right now. Tabby Girl will always be my Hero Dog. Tabitha is supporting Leader Dogs for the Blind that since 1939 has provided guide dogs to people who are blind and visually impaired to enhance their travel mobility and independence. Over 14,000 clients from 39 countries have attended Leader Dog training programs and utilized its services. All services are provided free of charge.

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Hearing Dogs Category: Tatiana II
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Tatiana II
Category: Hearing Dogs
Location: Plantation , Florida
Charity Partner:Dogs for the Deaf

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary when I went to sleep on a sweltering South Florida night. But at about 2 a.m. I woke up, struggling to catch my breath. Moments later, I wasn't breathing at all. My hearing dog, Tatiana, sprang into action, alerting my family that something was terribly wrong. My mother found me unresponsive after what was a severe asthma attack and she called paramedics. I have a history of struggling with asthma which is exacerbated by frequent ear infections as a result of Meniere's disease. That night when the paramedics arrived they said that Tatiana had saved my life. Tatiana is truly a Hero Dog. I was matched with Tatiana in 2011 and the wait to get her was well worth it. She has helped me get back my independence that I lost somewhere along the way after I suffered hearing loss as a teenager. She is a reminder that everything is going to be ok and she brings me so much joy. I graduated in December from Purdue University with a master's degree in biomedical engineering. Tatiana walked across the stage with me for graduation and wore her cap at commencement. Tatiana's diploma reads "Master of Friendship and Guidance." Dogs for the Deaf is the charity chosen to support for Tatiana. Dogs for the Deaf is a nonprofit, 501 (c) 3 organization that rescues homeless dogs from shelters, provides needed medical care and spaying/neutering for the dogs, and trains dogs to help people with a variety of disabilities and challenges including hearing loss, autism, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, panic/anxiety attacks, depression, stroke, and chronic arthritis. Dogs for the Deaf also trains dogs to assist professionals (teachers, physicians, counselors, legal advocates, caregivers) who work with patients and clients who have various disabilities and challenges. Dogs for the Deaf is funded by donations from individuals, service clubs, groups, bequests, estates, and businesses. It receives no government funding.