The 2019 Hero Dog Awards seek to find and recognize dogs who help people in many important ways. Dogs are nominated in one of seven categories: Service Dogs, Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs, and Shelter Dogs.
The Service Dog category includes animals that assist people with disabilities other than sight and hearing. Most have received special training.
Law Enforcement dogs include 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. Arson dogs are animals trained to sniff out accelerants that may have been used to start a fire.
For the ninth year, the American Humane Association wants to find America’s top hero dogs. Almost a million votes were cast online, narrowing the field down to just seven finalists, each in a separate category. For the next few weeks, I’ll highlight these seven extraordinary canines. And once again you will have the opportunity vote online for your favorite to be named Hero Dog of the Year.
We begin with Alice, nominated in the Service Dog category. Four years ago at age nine, Antonio was shot in the head while riding in his parents’ SUV. Even after five brain surgeries, he suffers from seizures and balance issues. Three years ago his community raised funds to get Alice, a dog specially trained to help Antonio. She goes wherever he goes, alerting him to oncoming seizures and helping with his balance, since a fall could be fatal. She makes it possible for the teenager to do many of the simple things we all take for granted. Alice is sponsored by Lulu’s Fund.
K-9 Dax is nominated in the Law Enforcement/Arson category. In just four years on the job, Dax is the poster boy for hero dogs – he loves his job, getting bad guys off the street and saving lives. Working with the Lake County Sheriff’s office, he has tracked and apprehended more than 70 suspects, located dozens of missing children and adults, and participated in over a hundred narcotic searches resulting in more than 17 kilos of illegal drugs seized, along with three quarters of a million dollars in currency, plus firearms and vehicles. In return, he just wants to play tug-of-war or go for a walk. Dax is sponsored by Zoetis.
For more information about the Hero Dog Awards, and the seven finalists competing for this year’s top spot, visit the website at HeroDogAwards.org. While you’re there, cast your vote for the one you think should be America’s next Hero Dog. It’s a great way to celebrate these special animals who make our lives better – and sometimes safer - in so many ways, when you’re speaking of pets.