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Pit Bull Named Year's Top "American Hero Dog" At The 2013 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™

MILITARY DOG CATEGORY (sponsored by Royal Canin®)

WINNER: CWD Carlos EDD ( Colorado Springs, CO) -- Explosive Detection Dog CWD Carlos retired in 2011 at the age of eight, after protecting U.S. and ISAF forces in continuous deployment for nearly five years. CWD Carlos, who worked with the U.S. Army's 3rd & 4th Infantry Divisions in Baghdad for two and a half years, was then transferred to Kandahar in 2009 to work in direct support of U.S. Special Forces on the front lines. Carlos is credited with finds on missions that saved the lives of many American soldiers. As Carlos aged, he was transferred to work with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan that was established by the United Nations Security Council. Sadly, upon retirement Carlos seems to have been the victim of neglect. To this day, Carlos still carries ligature mark scars on his back legs from hobble-style restraints. Fortunately for this hero, he was reclaimed, eventually adopted by the Ridpath family, and got a "Freedom Flight" HOME! Carlos continues to bring awareness to the contributions of all working dogs. A warrior with a zest for life in spite of his challenging medical issues, CWD Carlos is a true hero who saved uncounted lives while deployed, attends events, visits schools, and is an inspiration to everyone he meets. ( Charity Partner: Military Working Dog Adoptions)

SEARCH AND RESCUE DOG CATEGORY 

WINNER: John D ( Little Rock, AR) -- John D is a Search and Rescue dog, human cancer detective and all-around humanitarian. When needed, John D is called in to find the missing in kidnappings, disasters, drownings, and other emergencies. One day, John D was called in for a river search. Moments after he arrived, a woman approached and asked to pet him. She hugged him and whispered in his ear, "YOU are my only hope. Please go find my child. Please bring my baby back to me." There was an immediate bond between them. John D then boarded a boat and went out on the river. For hours he searched. John D was drawn to the water, completely focused on it and began dipping his nose at the same spot. When the boat returned to shore, this hero dog leapt off the boat, running straight to the woman who had greeted him. He leaned hard against her. She bent down and hugged him. When she lifted her face from John D's fur, there were tears. John D had found her son who had drowned two days before. John D also works to save lives by using his remarkable scenting ability to advance the use of canines in detecting ovarian cancer and other cancers, which may help save a mother, daughter or sister from a devastating disease. John D's determination to work, despite his own severe hip dysplasia, provides inspiration to others. Once a rescue dog saved by people, now John D spends his life helping and saving them. ( Charity Partner: The Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve)

SERVICE DOG CATEGORY

WINNER: SD Bronx ( Brunswick, GA) -- Can you imagine having your whole world change? Can you imagine having no friends? For 14-year-old Christopher those two questions were his reality. At the age of nine, Christopher began having seizures and was spending most of his childhood in the hospital trying to get answers. The answers were coming, but none of them were good. The doctors found out what was causing the seizures and they tried to use medicine to control them - one medicine after another. The seizures made it impossible for Christopher to attend school and other kids no longer wanted to be his friend - they were afraid of the seizures. Even Christopher was too afraid to sleep in his bedroom and didn't like leaving the house – the seizures had taken his childhood from him. Enter SD Bronx! Suddenly Christopher was not alone in his terrifying fight. His hero dog would tell him when seizures were about to happen and quickly alert others to help. SD Bronx stayed by his side at all doctor visits, and was there when Christopher lost half his field of vision, stepping into another role and working with Christopher and his sight cane. The challenges were hard but hero dog SD Bronx has helped Christopher to do more than he ever dreamed he could. ( Charity Partner: Texas Hearing and Service Dogs)

Each of the eight finalists received $1,500 to be donated to one of American Humane Association's charity partners. Elle won an additional $5,000 for her charity. In this way, more heroes may be nurtured.

Human Heroes Also Honored

The Hero Dog Awards honors heroes "on both ends of the leash," as well as outstanding contributors to the fields of child and animal welfare. The evening featured a special tribute video to philanthropist Lois Pope, who was awarded American Humane Association's coveted "Legacy Award" for helping millions of children, veterans, and animals through her support of American Humane Association's Red Star™ rescue services, her presenting sponsorship for two years of the Hero Dog Awards, and many other charities. "We are honored to count Mrs. Lois Pope as a true friend to American Humane Association because of her unyielding passion for helping our most precious treasures, our children and animals," said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Association president and CEO. "We know our work is never done, but because of Mrs. Pope's grace and generosity, we will be able to continue our 136-year old mission for many generations to come. Indeed, she is a true humanitarian in every sense of the word."

Country star Miranda Lambert was awarded the National Humanitarian Medal for her longtime dedication to helping animals in need. In 2011 she and her MuttNation Foundation worked with American Humane Association to get relief to the animals affected by the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. In 2012 she and her foundation sponsored the winning Military Dog category of the Hero Dog Awards. And this year, following the EF-5 tornado that devastated Moore, Oklahoma, she, her foundation, and her family all worked to help our Red Star rescue team save animals in the disaster zone.

Gus Arrendale, president of Springer Mountain Farms, was recognized for being the first major poultry producer to voluntarily enroll in the American Humane Certified® program, the nation's first, oldest, and largest farm animal welfare auditing and certification program, now ensuring the humane treatment of nearly 1 billion of the 10 billion animals living on America's farms and ranches. Mr. Arrendale's vision is for all-natural animals raised humanely on a vegetarian diet without the use of antibiotics, steroids, growth stimulants or hormones. For his early and forward-looking commitment to the welfare of the animals in his care, he was awarded the National Humanitarian Medal.

Finally, we honor the many generous sponsors who support the Hero Dog Awards and made them possible. "We thank the animals, their dedicated owners and handlers, and the generous sponsors who have helped bring about that recognition," says Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association. "Thank you to the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Hallmark Channel, national online sponsor and Therapy Dog sponsor Zoetis®, Military Dog sponsor Royal Canin®, Law Enforcement and Arson Dog sponsor State Farm®, Emerging Hero Dog sponsor Paul Mitchell Schools, Hearing Dog sponsor MRB Productions, Best Producer sponsor Merial, print sponsor Modern Dog magazine, and Pet Life Radio whose Super Smiley served as our 2013 National Spokesdog . Dogs may be our best friends, but these caring organizations are theirs."

The American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards TM

Now in its third year, the Hero Dog Awards competition searches out and recognizes America's Hero Dogs – often ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things, whether it's saving lives on the battlefield, lending sight or hearing to a human companion, or simply the tail-wagging welcome a pet owner relishes at the end of a hard day.  Dogs compete in eight categories for the Hero Dog Awards: Law Enforcement & Arson Dogs, Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Guide Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Hearing Dogs and Emerging Hero Dogs (the category for "ordinary" dogs).

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