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American Hero Dog: Willow

The biggest heroes can come in the smallest of packages. Such is the case of Willow, a petite pup who escaped from the South Korean dog meat trade. His former owners in South Korea abandoned Willow because he was too old and unwell, dropping him off at a dog farm understanding that he would be eaten as food. But the slaughterhouse rejected Willow because he “didn’t offer much meat,” and allowed the organization Save Korean Dogs to rescue him.

When Willow arrived in America he was malnourished with matted hair, dental disease, an infected tongue and cataracts. With loving attention from his new handler and quality medical care, Willow flourished. The sickly dog that was on death’s door is now enjoying a happy, fulfilling life.

Given a second chance at life, Willow has grabbed on and thrived. Always bounding towards others with a wobbling poof of hair and a smile, Willow’s story is a testament to the unending love we receive from our four-legged friends. His rescue is a reminder to all who can rescue that they can save a life by simply opening their doors.

Willow’s handler, Heather, has seen her dog’s story inspire those closest to her. Her own daughter started an animal rights club at her school in Las Vegas, inspired by Willow. Now, she and her friends work with members of the community to advocate for animal welfare and fight the dog meat trade.

Willow is a voice and inspiration leader for millions of animals, not just those subjected to the dog and cat meat trade. People listen, learn and respond to Willow.

In 2018, Willow was honored as our American Humane Shelter Hero Dog. The search is underway for this year’s dog and voting on the first round of this year’s applicants is open. To learn more visit

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