More than 3 million votes were cast by the American public, culminating in the selection of eight extraordinary canine finalists.
The four-legged stars were joined by two-legged celebrities as they walked the Red Carpet and posed for a capacity crowd of reporters, video crews and photographers. Actor Joey Lawrence was the Red Carpet host, and broadcast journalist Erik Sandoval served as Special Red Carpet Correspondent. Special musical guest Jewel performed three songs from her best-selling albums Pieces of You and This Way for the rapt crowd.
Specialized Search Dog Gabe was the finalist in the Military Working Dog category, sponsored by MuttNation Foundation, and won the top prize of American Hero Dog for 2012, but all eight finalists were winners in their categories, and we salute them for their courage, service and compassion.
Search and Rescue Dog
Soot (Charleston, WV): West Virginia Search and Rescue K-9 Soot, didn’t know he had a big job ahead of him when he was adopted by Lorrie Burdette. Soot’s training in air scent, scent discrimination, and certified search and rescue wilderness training gave him the tools he needed to rescue a 78-year-old diabetic grandfather lost in the wilderness on a cold December morning.
Holly (Magna, UT): Seizure alert Service Dog Holly never takes her attention away from her guardian, Shanna Wilkinson, who suffers from epileptic seizures. With Holly by her side, Shanna is able to embrace all of life’s gifts and challenges without fear. Together they travel and together they teach elementary students the importance of Service Dogs.
Emerging Hero Dog
Daniel (Nutley, NJ): Daniel, a Beagle from an Alabama shelter on “death row,” did the unimaginable in 2011 when he survived the most inhumane form of euthanasia, the gas chamber. Since being adopted by his loving guardian, Joe Dwyer, Daniel the “Miracle Beagle” has used his second chance at life as an advocate for shelter adoptions and humane euthanasia legislation across the United States. Daniel won in the “emerging hero” category for an ordinary dog who does extraordinary things.
Tabitha (South Bend, IN): Tabitha is more than just a guide dog to her former guardian, Ann Drake, who lost her sight as an adult. Tabitha guided Anne back to a place within herself where she found the confidence that she had lost and overcame the fears of her new life. With Tabitha by her side, Ann went on to complete her undergraduate and graduate studies.
Tatiana II (Plantation, FL): Tatiana II, was matched with handler Cristina Saint-Blancard in 2011 as her hearing dog but quickly turned into her life-saving hero. Cristina suffers from asthma that is exacerbated by frequent ear infections and one night found herself struggling for breath and nearly died. Tatiana II was quick to notice something was wrong and ran into the next room to alert Cristina’s family. If not for Tatiana II that night, Cristina would not have gone on to graduate from Purdue University last December.
Law enforcement/Arson Dog
Jynx (Shillington, PA): On the evening of June 29, 2011, Law Enforcement-Arson K-9 Jynx desperately worked to try and pull his guardian, Sgt. Kyle Pagerly and another officer, out of harm’s way as a crime suspect opened fire during a routine warrant delivery. Twenty-eight-year-old Sgt. Pagerly was killed in the line of duty leaving behind his pregnant wife. If not for the swift and heroic efforts of K-9 Jynx, more officers would have lost their lives that night.
Stella (Mt. Kisco, NY): Stella and her guardian Marissa Levy, dedicate their time to bringing love and joy to the residents at Richmond Community Services, a not-for-profit organization that cares for developmentally disabled children and adults. Stella is unfazed by disabilities and diseases – befriending and unconditionally loving all she meets. Stella is the sunshine that beats the cloudy days for the residents and for that they are so appreciative.
Each of the eight finalists received $5,000 to be donated to one of American Humane Association’s charity partners, which include the United States War Dog Association, K9s4COPs, Dogs for the Deaf, Angel on A Leash, International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve, Leader Dogs for the Blind and The Pine Street Foundation. Gabe won an additional $10,000 for the United States War Dog Association.
The AHA Hero Dog Awards Premieres on Hallmark Channel November 8, 2012 at 8:00PM ET/PT