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174 Courageous Canines Coast To Coast Nominated For Chance To Become America’s Top Hero Dog

Public Voting Opens to Choose Eight Finalists for 2016 American Humane Hero Dog Awards®; Presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, national campaign to culminate in red carpet awards gala and two-hour special on Hallmark Channel this fall


Every dog has its day, and 174 of the nation’s bravest dogs are hoping that day will come for them on September 10 at the American Humane Hero Dog Awards®, presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation. These dogs are all competing for the honor of being named 2016’s American Hero Dog, the highest honor a dog can receive. But it’s now up to America to decide which of those dogs will take home that coveted prize.  

Dog lovers across the country are invited to visit and vote once per day for their favorite dogs in each of eight categories. Following the first round of voting, which ends April 27 with the selection of 24 semifinalists (the top three in each category), a second round, featuring a combination of public and celebrity voting, will narrow the field to the eight category finalists. The winning dog in each category will be flown to Los Angeles and celebrated at a red carpet, star-studded awards gala on September 10, when this year’s American Hero Dog will be revealed. The sixth annual Hero Dog Awards will air nationwide as a two-hour special on Hallmark Channel this fall.

This year’s voting rounds are dedicated to 2015 American Hero Dog Harley, who passed away earlier this week. This one-eyed Chihuahua spent 10 long years enduring abuse in a puppy mill before he was rescued by Rudi and Dan Taylor. Together, the Taylors and Harley rescued hundreds more dogs like Harley from puppy mills, giving them second chances at life. 

The eight categories for 2016 are: Law Enforcement Dogs, sponsored by the RIMADYL K-9 Courage Program™ from Zoetis; Military Dogs, also sponsored by the RIMADYL K-9 Courage Program from Zoetis; Arson Dogs, sponsored by State Farm; Therapy Dogs, sponsored by Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food (which is also the Official Pet Food of the 2016 Hero Dog Awards); Service Dogs, sponsored by Modern Dog magazine; Emerging Hero Dogs, a category that pays tribute to ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things, sponsored by Merial, maker of NexGard® (afoxalaner) Chewables; Search and Rescue Dogs; and Guide/Hearing Dogs

Over the past five years, Americans have cast millions of votes for nearly a thousand dogs, all seeking the coveted title of American Hero Dog. The program reaches more than 1 billion people each year and draws the support and participation of top celebrity dog lovers from all over the world. Hosts, judges, award presenters, and entertainment acts have included Alison Sweeney, Bindi Irwin, Derek Hough, Michelle Beadle, Victoria Stilwell, Betty White, Whoopi Goldberg, Denise Richards, Joey Lawrence, Lisa Vanderpump, Burt Reynolds, Chelsea Handler, Martin Short, Jewel, Wilson Phillips, John Ondrasik, Carson Kressley, Miranda Lambert, Pauley Perrette, Kristen Chenoweth, Naomi Judd, Lori Loughlin, Lea Thompson, Eric Stonestreet, Fred Willard, Danica McKellar, Bailee Madison, and many, many more. 

Winners in each category will earn $2,500 for their designated charity partner and the overall winner’s charity partner will win an additional $5,000 prize. Each charity partner is dedicated to celebrating the role of working dogs in our lives, and like American Humane, celebrates the importance of the human-animal bond.

“Our best friends do so much to improve and even save our lives, and every dog owner knows about the extraordinary, unbreakable bond they share with their dog,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane’s president and CEO. “The American Humane Hero Dog Awards are our way of celebrating the power of the human-animal bond, which has been a core part of our organization’s mission for nearly 140 years. This year, we are dedicating this round to our 2015 American Hero Dog Harley, who shared a powerful and unbreakable bond with his rescuers, the Taylors. May the giant spirit of this tiny hero dog live forever in their hearts – and ours.”

“The Hero Dog Awards recognize some of America’s bravest heroes,” said philanthropist and presenting sponsor Lois Pope. “I am honored to have served as the presenting sponsor for this invaluable effort to honor the best in our best friends and shine a light on the extraordinary acts of courage and kindness often performed by ordinary dogs.”

“Every year, we have the great honor of highlighting eight new hero dogs, whose stories of bravery, devotion, and unconditional love underscore the power of the human-dog bond,” said Bill Abbott, president & CEO, Crown Media Family Networks. “The Hero Dog Awards, a truly inspirational program, not only gives our canine friends the recognition they so deserve, but it shines a spotlight on the incredible range of services they perform on our behalf.”

Key dates for the 2016 American Humane Hero Dog Awards contest include:

  • March 23-April 27: Voting to determine 24 semifinalists
  • May 11-June 22: Voting to determine the 8 category finalists
  • July 6-August 24: Voting to determine 2016’s American Hero Dog
  • September 10: Sixth annual Hero Dog Awards event in Los Angeles

Nominations for 2016 Hero Vet and Hero Vet Tech Awards Close Next Week

And because behind every hero pet there is a hero veterinarian or veterinary technician, the Hero Dog Awards once again feature a second contest – the American Humane Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards™, sponsored by Zoetis. Pet owners and animal lovers across America still have a week left to nominate their favorite animal caretakers in these two fields, with each to be honored at the Hero Dog Awards event on September 10. The nomination period for this separate contest closes on March 31.

For more information about the 2016 American Humane Hero Dog Awards®, and to vote daily in the contest, please visit For more information about the 2016 American Humane Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards™, and to nominate a veterinarian or veterinary technician, please visit For more information on sponsorship opportunities email Mari Harner at [email protected] or call 1-800-227-4645. 

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