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Special feature

American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards

by Scott Broecker


hero awards

History is laced with stories of canine heroics. It’s no wonder that when the first film to feature a canine (Rescued by Rover) debuted in 1905, it highlighted the intelligence, loyalty, and courage of the family dog.

Whether they are enhancing our daily lives with love and companionship, providing assistance to the disabled, risking their lives to protect our soldiers, using their super senses to alert and save lives, comforting hospital patients, capturing criminals, or giving courage to countless veterans and children, we certainly owe a huge debt of gratitude to dogs.

hero dog

And so it is very fitting that each year the American Humane Association (AHA) Hero Dog Awards puts the spotlight on the invaluable accomplishments of dogs. 

This year’s Fifth AHA Hero Dog Awards are currently under way with 171 dogs from across the country (already heroes in their own right) competing for the honor of being named 2015's American Hero Dog.  

Each dog has been nominated in one of eight categories: Law Enforcement and Arson Dogs, Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Guide Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Hearing Dogs, and Emerging Hero Dogs (the category for ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things).

After nationwide voting determines eight finalists, the winners in each category will be flown to Hollywood with their humans to attend the AHA Hero Dog Awards event in Los Angeles. The winner is determined by a combination of votes cast by the public and by a celebrity panel, and then announced during a televised, star-studded awards gala that takes place September 19 at the Beverly Hilton.

The top dog in each category will win $2,500 for a designated charity partner, and the overall winner will receive an additional $5,000 for their chosen charity. Included in this year’s nominees are Naki’o and Lola, whose stories you can read about in this issue.

Behind every hero pet is a hero veterinarian or vet tech. A second contest honors veterinarians and veterinary technicians for exceptional service and dedication.  

Key dates for the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards include:
  * April 29: Voting begins for Veterinarians and Vet techs
  * May 25 –June 26: Voting to determine the eight category finalists
  * July 4–September 7: Voting to determine 2015’s American Hero Dog
  * September 19: Fifth Annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards in Los Angeles

The Hero Dog Award Statue, created by world-renowned animal sculptor Liza Todd-Tivey
Todd-Tivey, the daughter of legendary actress and animal advocate Elizabeth Taylor was asked to create The American Hero Dog statuette. She is also the creator of the 911 sculpture honoring first-responder dogs who risked their lives to serve at ground zero. It is a life-size tribute using an actual twisted girder and debris from the towers, and the much smaller Hero Dog statuette incorporates some of the same elements. Both depict German Shepherds wearing rescue gear, including protective footwear, but the statuette is mounted on a proportionally smaller base, with the dog ascending rather than descending.


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