For 10 years, Harley spent his life in a small cage in a puppy mill.
By the time a loving family adopted him, he had a diseased heart, a mouth filled with rot, a fused spine, a broken tail, gnarled toes and legs that were deformed. The pup, who now lives in Berthoud, Colorado, had also lost one eye, most likely the result of his cage being power-washed with him in it.
The good news is the Chihuahua’s life has vastly improved since being adopted four years ago, and because of his journey and the attention it has brought to dogs who have experienced similar hardships, Harley was named American Humane Association’s 2015 American Hero Dog.
“Harley is a voice for the thousands of breeding dogs still living in puppy mills and by winning … it will draw attention to help further his mission,” the organization states on its website.
During the awards ceremony, held in Beverly Hills Saturday, Harley was honored — with a standing ovation, no less — along with seven other dogs who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their actions and in bringing awareness to the plight of many animals across the nation. Harley serves as the mascot for a campaign that raises money to rescue dogs from puppy mills. “Harley to the Rescue” has raised help rescue more than 500 dogs from puppy mills over the past two years, according to American Humane.
Harley won the Emerging Hero Dogs category (for “ordinary” dogs who do extraordinary things) before taking home the grand prize. The other award categories are: Law Enforcement Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Arson Dogs, Service Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, and Guide and Hearing Dogs. The grand prize winner (the American Hero Dog) is selected among the category winners through a combination of online voting and a panel of judges.
“Thank you so much to National Mill Dog Rescue,” Harley’s owner, Rudi Taylor, said during the ceremony. “Without them we’d never be standing here today.”
Probably one of the most touching moments of the night was when Harley gave his acceptance speech — via Taylor, of course.
“I humbly accept this award on behalf of millions of puppy mill dogs, those that have been rescued and those still waiting and those who never had the chance to experience freedom. Love Harley, a little dog with a big dream.”
The entire awards ceremony will air on the Hallmark Channel on Oct. 30, 2015.
Posted by Lynda Hill on Sunday, September 20, 2015