On Oct. 21, 2015, America’s dogs went to Washington, D.C. into the great halls of Congress. The eight valiant dogs and their handlers focused congressional members and attending media on issues concerning the lives of humans and their four-legged furry dog friends. The event was called “Hero Dogs on the Hill – A Celebration of Working Dogs in Our Lives” and was hosted by the [new] congressional Humane Bond Caucus. The eight dogs were the winners of the 2015 American Humane Association [AHA] Hero Dog Awards®. One of these heroic dogs was going to be awarded top honors and the big title, 2015 American Hero Dog.
Congressmen Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) created and introduced the Humane Bond Caucus to bring common-sense, scientific dialogue and logical discussion to concerns between humans and animals.
This was the first time the outstanding dogs were presented to Congress and the public. The eight dogs were: Emerging Hero Dog Harley; Arson Dog Glory; Guide/Hearing Dog Chara; Law Enforcement Dog Dax; Military Dog Rambo; Search and Rescue Dog Glory; Service Dog Axel; and Therapy Dog Hudson.
The heroic dogs were winners in one of eight unique categories. The top honor was presented to the long-suffering Harley, a sweet tiny Chihuahua, who endured appalling cruelty in a puppy mill for 10 years and, finally, was rescued into a loving home.
The American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards® have been nationally televised on the Hallmark Channel [Crown Media Family Networks]. Crown’s executive vice president of programming, Michelle Vicary, told about the significance of paying tribute to these heroic dogs, sharing their stories, and broadcasting their achievements to millions of viewers.
Congressman Bilirakis affirmed that the caucus mission is to strengthen the humane bond between people and animals. He noted, “The bond with animals has defined humanity for thousands of years.”
Said Congressman Cuellar:
I want to thank all who came out to today to support humankind’s best friends and hear the stories of some remarkable American hero dogs who have protected our troops and comforted our veterans, children, and the elderly. It’s important that we celebrate and honor these hero dogs for all the work they do to keep us safe.
With thanks, American Humane Association president and CEO, Dr. Robin Ganzert, recapped the AHA’s gratitude to the Congressmen Bilirakis and Cuellar for advocating the power of the human bond with dogs on Capitol Hill and acknowledged the Crown Media Family Networks for ensuring the great success of the Hero Dog Awards
American Humane Association board chairman, John Payne, said in his closing address that:
There really is no stronger example of the connection between humans and animals than the one we share with dogs. Without dogs, we would not be nearly as safe or healthy, and certainly we would not be as happy. Ask anyone here, that’s why it is so important we recognize their value.
Meet the eight hero dogs in the following brief descriptions:
Emerging Hero Dogs
Charity Partner: New Leash on Life
Little Harley spent nearly a dog’s lifetime in a small cage in a puppy mill. For 10 long years he lived, suffered and barely survived in that cage until he was finally rescued and found a loving home. “His journey of physical and emotional healing inspired a campaign called ‘Harley to the Rescue’ which has raised the funds to save more than 500 dogs from puppy mills over the past two years. Harley is a spokes-dog against puppy mills, educating thousands of people about commercial dog breeding. The little guy had many issues that include a “diseased heart, a mouth filled with rot, a fused spine, a broken tail, gnarled toes, and legs that were deformed.” He also suffered the loss of an eye caused from a power-washed cage – with him still in it.
Charity Partner: Hand in Paw
Hudson’s three-pup litter was only three weeks old when they were found by railroad tracks in Albany, NY, badly abused. Due to their severe injuries, the puppies needed medical treatment; One littermate died, but Hudson and Pearl became known as the Railroad Puppies. Hudson underwent several surgeries and had a paw amputated. The little dog’s veterinarians decided he was a perfect recipient for a prosthetic limb, and “Hudson became one of the first dogs in New York to be fitted with a prosthetic paw.” Thereafter Hudson became a therapy dog to spread awareness about animal cruelty at schools, hospitals and organizations. Now Hudson and his owner continue to change hearts and minds about pit bulls one individual at a time.
Charity Partner: Project Paws Alive, Inc.
Glory is certified as an accelerant detection dog, sniffing out tiny traces of accelerants. Her human partner and Glory work primarily in Beloit, WI, but investigate fire anywhere else when needed. Glory can rule out arson or confirm in within a matter of minutes. She can also help firefighters experiencing difficult days relieve stress and tension. Glory accompanies her handler to schools and various organization to discuss “fire safety, fire prevention and arson awareness.
Charity Partner: America’s Vet Dogs, the Veterans K9 Corp
“Sgt. Rambo served in the Marine Corps from January 6, 2011 to April 11, 2012 as an explosive detection MWD based out of MCCS Cherry Point, N.C.” During his active duty, Rambo went through 994 training hours of training and performed 622 missions. Rambo suffered a shoulder injury and was medically retired November 2012 after amputation of his left leg. He then became Alamo Honor Flight’s mascot and accompanies WWII veterans to Washington, D.C. He presently serves as mascot for Gizmo’s Gift, a Texas nonprofit providing monetary support to families who adopt a retired working dog. Rambo “is a hero who is able to cross many lines and bring unity to animal welfare, human rights, and military and veteran groups
Search and Rescue Dogs
Charity Partner: National Search Dog Alliance
An eight-year-old Bloodhound, Glory. Is a trained and certified tracking dog that locates and finds lost pets. Glory has worked at her job for many years and has been most successful, bringing closure to hundreds of families. She is devoted to her work and is successful in extreme temperatures and conditions. Grateful owners of three dogs, Pistol, Paisley and Goldie, attested to Glory’s remarkable penchant for locating their pets. These three families and countless others are immensely grateful to Glory.
Law Enforcement Dogs
Charity Partner: K9s4COPS
Officer Chris Alberini was saved by his K9, Dax, from being shot by a suspect with a shotgun. If Dax had not found the guy in a house attic, Alberini would have died. Dax took on the crook, biting his leg, when the guy reached for the shotgun. The suspect’s shotgun was ready and loaded with five rounds of ammunition. All the suspect waited for was not to be found or the opportunity to get away by shooting the officer that came after him. “Investigators later learned that the suspect had texted his attorney and girlfriend about killing police.”
Charity Partner: Dogs on Deployment
In 2012 Captain Jason Haag (USMC, Ret.) met his lifesaving German Shepherd, Axel at K9s for Warriors, an organization that offers service dogs for veterans. Haag had been diagnosed with PTSD and traumatic brain injury after two Middle East combat tours. He suffered from mental agony and constant, severe depression and was taking over 30 drugs to deal with his incapacitating symptoms. Axel serves as his four-legged buddy and is always at Haag’s side. When Haag experiences a panic attack, Axel goes into action to get his attention and keep him safe.
Guide / Hearing Dogs
Charity Partner: Guide Dog Users Inc.
Originally trained as a signal service dog, Chara trained herself to detect impending myoclonic dystonic attack episodes after her handler suffered a work accident and developed Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy type II with Dystonia. But Chara also detects episodes in others as she did for her handler’s newborn son when the baby stopped breathing. Chara alerted quickly or the baby would have died of SIDS. Chara has developed an incredibly close bond to her human family and pack that she has become their furry angel. “Chara has gone beyond her original skills of hearing dog.”
The Hallmark Channel will present the dogs’ remarkable stories on Friday night, Oct. 30, 2015. Presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards® will be televised nationally at 8 p.m. ET/PT, 7 p.m. Central.
For more information, please visit Crown Media Press.