Nation’s Top Dogs and Humane Heroes Honored at American Humane Hero Dog Awards

Every year I have the pleasure to cover American Humane events in Palm Beach.  The recent Pups4Patriots event always brings tears to my eyes as those heroes on two legs are matched with the heroes on 4 legs.  Each end of the leash has its own blessing.  Those who served our country receive one of the best gifts of all.  A dog who will give back to them a well deserved life, and receive a well-served life in return.

Lois Pope and Suzie Goldsmith – Photo: Courtesy of Capehart

Just as the tears dry from this event, on comes the American Humane Hero Dog Awards.  How does one choose a Hero Dog?  I look at my 12-year old bright red Golden Retriever with a white face, her bad hip, a recent history of 2 broken legs, and think, ‘she is my hero.’  And, as many millions of us feel the exact same way, we have the opportunity to meet many challenged people who are blind, injured, incapacitated and have children suffering from emotional and physical issues and say, ‘hero’ is just not enough to explain what these amazing four-legged prince and princesses can accomplish. 

Marilyn Pelstring and Abigal Trenk – Photo: Courtesy of Capehart

On February 26, 2020 the nation’s top dogs and humane heroes gathered on Monday at a gala event held at The Sailfish Club in Palm Beach to honor America’s most courageous canines and encourage nominations for the 2020 American Humane Hero Dog Awards®.

Margaret and Leigh-Anne Kazma – Photo Courtesy of Capehart

The annual gala luncheon pays tribute to the best of our best friends and some of the country’s best friends to animals. There is never a dry eye in the house. The luncheon celebrated the extraordinary accomplishments of the top winners in their category for the 2019 American Humane Hero Dog Awards, including:

Robin Ganzert and Steven Delalio – Photo: Courtesy of Capehart
  • The nation’s top 2019 American Hero Dog “Alice,” who helps a young victim of a tragic shooting by alerting him to oncoming seizures and assisting him with his balance issues;
  • Military Hero Dog “Sgt. Yeager,” who led more than 100 patrols in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Improvised Explosive Detection Dog with the United States Marine Corps and located dozens of explosive devices. Sgt. Yeager was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in a blast;
  • Law Enforcement Hero Dog “Dax,” who successfully apprehended more than 70 suspects, tracked and found dozens of missing or endangered children and adults, and participated in 100 narcotic searches resulting in the seizure of over 17 kilos of cocaine, heroin and other narcotics, hundreds of pounds of cannabis, three quarters of a million dollars in currency, and dozens of firearms;
  • Therapy Hero Dog “Jeanie,” a three-legged rescue who went from being homeless and crippled to becoming a certified therapy dog, helping amputees and traumatized children;
  • Guide/Hearing Hero Dog “Leader Dog Lady,” who helps her legally blind owner live a full and rich life;
  • Search and Rescue Hero Dog “Piglet, who helped bring closure to families following the devastating wildfires in California; and,
  • Shelter Hero Dog “Gus,” who was found walking aimlessly down a busy street with a head so severely swollen you couldn’t tell he was a dog. A shoelace was tied so tightly on him that it sliced through his flesh in his neck almost to the bone. Gus now works to bring attention to the plight of homeless animals.
Herb and Sharon Jablin – Photo: Courtesy of Capehart

            In addition to honoring the nation’s hero dogs, American Humane celebrated several human heroes for their outstanding work in supporting efforts to build a better world for the protection of animals. American Humane President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert praised the work of internationally renowned philanthropist Lois Pope, who has helped countless animals in need and served as the Platinum Presenting Sponsor of the Hero Dog Awards for ten years.   I’ve got to know Robin Ganzert over the years that I’ve covered this event and other Humane events.  She is one of the most loved and truly generous individuals I’ve ever met.  She IS American Humane and her heart and soul are immersed in this Organization.  Each and every time Robin takes the stage to speak of her beloved American Humane, she moves you in a very special way.  The passion and involvement Robin possess is contagious as she is able to raise funds by just being in the room. 

Caroline Zuendel and Hero Military Dog Sgt. Yeager – Photo: Courtesy of Capehart

The organization made a special presentation to award-winning children’s author and philanthropist Loretta Neff, who has helped teach children about the remarkable power of the human-animal bond. Additionally, since every hero pet relies at some time on the skills of a hero vet, American Humane honored Dr. Terry Morris, the winner of the 2019 American Humane Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Nurse Awards, sponsored by leading animal health company Zoetis.

Robin Ganzert and Therapy dog Jeannie – Photo Courtesy of CAPEHART

“For thousands of years, people have had a special connection with dogs.” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “The Hero Dogs Award gala luncheon is an inspiring afternoon when we offer our thanks to so many of our great heroes – from service dogs who improve our lives to military dogs who fight alongside our troops to defend our freedom.”

Nominations for the 2020 Hero Dog Awards are open until March 10 at 3:00 pm Eastern Time. Winners in each category will travel to take part in a star-studded Hollywood awards gala, which will be broadcast nationwide this fall on Hallmark Channel.

            For information on how to buy tickets to the 2020 American Humane Hero Dog Awards gala in Hollywood on September 26, please contact Mari Harner at 561-537-5887 or marih@americanhumane.org.

About American Humane

American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization, founded in 1877. For more information, please visit www.americanhumane.org.

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