The 2015 Hero Dog Awards seek to find and recognize dogs who help people in many important ways. Dogs are nominated in one of eight categories: Service Dogs, Emerging Hero Dogs, Law Enforcement Dogs, Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs.
The Law Enforcement Dog category includes what we often think of as police dogs, animals specially trained to patrol, search buildings, track criminals, and to detect drugs, narcotics and explosive devices.
The Arson Dog category includes animals trained to sniff out accelerants that may have been used to start a fire. Every year hundreds of lives (and billions of dollars in property) are lost as a result of fires that were set intentionally. The dog works with a handler who is a law enforcement officer trained to investigate fire scenes.
Last week I highlighted two dogs that are among the eight finalists for this year’s Hero Dog Award, sponsored by the American Humane Association. “Axel” was nominated in the Service Dog Category, and “Harley (the Puppy Mill Dog)” represents the Emerging Hero Dog category.
Dax, a German Shepherd from Massachusetts, is nominated in the Law Enforcement Dog category. He and his human partner Officer Chris Alberini were on a search when Dax found the suspect in the attic of a house, waiting with a loaded shotgun to shoot the officer. Dax bit the man’s leg, allowing Chris to subdue the gunman. Chris is convinced Dax saved his life, especially when subsequent information showed the man had intended to kill a policeman. Last year Dax became the first canine ever to receive the George L. Hanna Memorial Award for Bravery. His charity partner is K9s4COPS, an organization that works to make sure every law enforcement officer that needs a K-9 partner has one trained and ready to help stop criminals in the act.
Glory, a 3-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever in Beloit, Wisconsin, is nominated in the Arson Dog Category. She was first trained as an assistance dog, but had separation anxiety issues. She then moved to the arson program where she has successfully investigated almost 20 different fire scenes. She sniffs the debris and can detect trace evidence left by accelerants, something that would take a human investigator almost a week. Because of her assistance training, she also helps to comfort firefighters and paramedics after a stressful call. Glory lives with her handler Lt. Keith Lynn and his family. When she’s off duty, she visits schools to educate kids about fire safety. Her charity partner is Project Paws Alive which provides lifesaving K9 equipment such as protective vests and oxygen masks for First Responder K-9s.
To learn more about the Hero Dog Awards and this year’s finalists, visit the website at HeroDogAwards.org. You can vote for the finalist you think should be America’s Hero Dog, because some heroes have four legs, when we’re speaking of pets.