By: Patrick Mahaney
We recently devoted an entire month to animal adoption, but canine and
feline aficionados must actively address the worldwide animal overpopulation on
a year-round basis.
The American Humane Association (AHA) reports that
“millions of pets across the country face euthanasia every year because there
are not enough people who will adopt them and give them caring homes”.
Fortunately, organizations like the AHA exist to fund multiple
initiatives promoting the betterment and health of animals on an international
basis. Having been founded in 1877, the
AHA is America's first national humane organization. AHA also recognizes extraordinary service
dogs as part of the Hero Dog Awards.
Fellow BlogPaws member Kristin Dewey and I were honored attend this year's Hero Dog Awards as a guest
of PetHub. By fusing technology with one of the basic
tenants of responsible pet ownership (proper identification through tagging),
PetHub created a novel means of increasing the likelihood your lost canine or
feline family member will safely return home.
The dogs recognized for their heroic actions spanned a
variety of duties, ages, breeds (and breed mixes), and four-limbed walks of
life. Robin R. Ganzert, President and CEO of the
AHA, states that 2012's Hero Dog Awards eight finalists have "gone above
and beyond the call of duty, saving lives on the battlefield, comforting the
ill, the aged and the afflicted, bringing hope to those who have lost it, and
reminding us of the powerful, age-old bond between animals and people."
2011's winner, Roselle, was a guide dog for who aided her
visually impaired owner, Michael Hingson, down 78 floors in the World
Trade Center during 9/11. Roselle has crossed over the rainbow bridge,
but Hingson attended the awards with Roselle's successor, Africa, with whom he
publicly speaks to promote the human-animal bond.
Here's a rundown of the 2012
Hero Dog Awards Finalists, including their "category",
name, and charity partner (in parentheses):
"Military Dog" Gabe (United States War Dog
"Guide Dog" Tabitha (Leader Dogs for the Blind)
"Therapy Dog" Stella (Angel on a Leash)
"Law Enforcement/Arson Dog" Jynx (K9s4Cops)
"Service Dog" Holly (International Association of
Assistance Dog Partners)
"Search and Rescue Dog" Soot (Sage Foundation for
Dogs Who Serve)
"Hearing Dog" Tatiana II (Dogs for the Deaf)
"Emerging Heroes Dog" Daniel (Pine Street
And the winner was?
"Military Dog" Gabe, a Labrador
Retriever (yellow) who began serving our country as a Military Working Dog in
2006. While deployed to Iraq, Gabe
completed over 210 combat missions and achieved 26 detections of explosives and
weapons. On breaks from his combat
missions, Gabe provided emotional support to wounded US soldiers in hospitals
and teaches the importance of education to children in elementary schools.
Gabe was the runner up in the "Military Dog"
category in 2011. He retired from active
duty in 2009, but Gabe continues to represent the U.S. Military Police.
I find it remarkable that some of the finalists were removed
from less than desirable circumstances, adopted into loving homes, and then
transitioned into a role that benefits society.
The tale of Daniel, a Beagle mix having survived gas chamber
euthanasia in an Alabama animal shelter, was exceptional.
Eighteen other dogs put into the gas chamber with Daniel
died, while he emerged with a wagging tail.
How Daniel survived is unknown, yet his ability to overcome death
prompted the animal control officer who attempted to end Daniel’s life to offer
a second chance.
With the help of Pilots and Paws and Eleventh Hour Rescue,
Daniel found a permanent home in New Jersey with the Dwyer family. Daniel currently represents shelters as an
adoption advocate and helps raise awareness of efforts to ban the use of gas
chambers to euthanize shelter pets ("Daniel's Law" in Pennsylvania).
Many celebrities lent their image and passion for animals by
appearing at the Hero Dog Awards, including Kristin Chenoweth (the evening's
host), Jewel, Naomi Judd, Pauley Perrette, Denise Richards, Candy Spelling,
Victoria Stillwell, Lisa Vanderpump (and her pooch Giggy), Michael Vartan, and
On an ongoing basis, let’s recognize the positive
contributions made by Hero Dogs and our companion pooches. One of the best means of doing so is to be a
responsible pet owner and advocate for causes that promote animal welfare, such
the American Humane Association.