Home / Newsroom / One Week Left to Help Choose Canine Contestants Vying to Become America’s Top Dog

One Week Left to Help Choose Canine Contestants Vying to Become America’s Top Dog

Seven Category Winners Will Become Finalists in the 2021 American Humane Hero Dog Awards®

WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, July 8, 2021 — Since before the beginning of recorded time, dogs have given us their love, protection, and companionship. Now we humans have one week to pay back a tiny portion of that considerable debt by helping to choose the finalists for the 2020 American Humane Hero Dog Awards®, a nationwide effort to identify and honor the best of our best friends. The awards, which are sponsored by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, will be broadcast nationally by Hallmark Channel as a two-hour special this fall.

Twenty-one heroic hounds in seven categories were chosen by the American public to advance to the semifinals from a field of more than 400 remarkable candidates. Animal lovers are now invited to visit between now and July 15 to vote once per day in each of seven Hero Dog categories: Therapy Dogs; Service Dogs; Military Dogs; Law Enforcement Dogs; Shelter Dogs; Search and Rescue Dogs; and Guide/Hearing Dogs.

The winning dog in each category will take part in the nationally televised Hero Dog Awards this fall and will be celebrated at a glittering gala in their honor in Palm Beach on November 12. All rounds open and close at 12 p.m. Pacific Time.

“The American Humane Hero Dog Awards are our way of honoring the best of our best friends,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane president and CEO. “This unique effort brings attention to the life-changing, life-saving power of the human-animal bond – something that has been a core part of our organization’s mission since 1877.”

“The Hero Dog Awards celebrate America’s often unsung heroes,” said philanthropist and Platinum Presenting Sponsor Lois Pope. “From those who defend our country to those who help us heal, guide us, protect us, and help find the lost, every single contender exemplifies the courage and heroism we seek to spotlight in this campaign. Our goal is not only to honor these magnificent dogs but to inspire America to reflect on the outsized contributions that animals make in our lives each and every day.”

Meet the 21 remarkable Hero Dog Awards semifinalists!

Here are brief descriptions, written by the hero dogs’ owners/handlers:

Therapy Dogs category

  • Boone (Hookstown, Pennsylvania) – Boone survived heartbreaking cruelty as a puppy, which resulted in the loss of his back legs. His life changed when he was adopted by a family with a soft spot for special needs pets. His family had him fitted with a wheelchair to improve his mobility, and he has been a dog on a mission ever since – a mission to spread his joy to others with his infectious smile and story of resilience. Despite his challenges, his sweet nature and enthusiasm for life make him a perfect fit for his new profession as a therapy dog. They say that when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life, and that is the truth for Boone. Children light up when he enters the room. Boone is an ambassador for the nonprofit Joey’s P.A.W. (Prosthetics and Wheels). So far, the charity has provided mobility devices to over 700 dogs in need in Pittsburgh, across the country, and even internationally. Boone and Joey’s P.A.W. hope to improve both the outcome for dogs with mobility issues in shelters and rescues across the country, as well as perceptions about their adoptability. Boone deserves the title of American Hero Dog because he inspires those around him every day to overcome the obstacles that life throws at them. When he is not spreading joy as a therapy dog, he is working to make life better for dogs with mobility issues in shelters. Just look at his smile. He is going to change the world!
  • Cole (Millville, New Jersey) – Cole may be deaf, but he’s helping people hear his message: A disability is not an inability, it’s a superpower. As an ambassador for special needs, Cole transformed himself from a rescue dog to a superhero in the eyes of children and adults alike. Deemed “broken” and passed up at a local shelter, Cole’s journey and message has impacted countless lives since his adoption. As a therapy dog, he works every day alongside his music teacher dad at a New Jersey elementary school with a unique social-emotional learning program called the Team Cole Project. Through his work in school and with traveling assemblies across the region, he empowers children to embrace their differences and inspires acts of acceptance. As their official mascot, Cole volunteers at the NJ Veterans Memorial Home and earned the Presidential Silver Service Award. Being a hospice therapy dog, he comforts patients and their families with his angelic love and support. During the pandemic, he hopped into the “Cole Mobile,” doing weekly drive-by visits throughout the neighborhoods of his school and community. With his paws hanging out of the window, students were able to stay connected with their favorite inspirational symbol of hope and love. In the summer of 2020, Cole embarked on a statewide Kindness Tour, lifting the spirits of care facility residents and staff. School classrooms and assemblies may have become virtual, veteran visits may be through glass, but Cole’s message and mission are as strong as ever.
  • Maverick (St. Robert, Missouri) – Maverick is a Great Dane who is following in the “pawprints” of his brother, Bandit – his hero, whom he has trained alongside over the last four years. In 2018, at the age of one, Maverick became a therapy dog for the USO of Missouri, something he had been groomed for since he was a puppy. From the day he became a therapy dog, Maverick’s mission has been to serve our service members and their families. His true passion, when you see him light up the most, is when he works with the children of our military service members. Maverick is their rock as he escorts children to the burial site of their fallen family member, stands on the podium with children as they testify in court, acts as an attentive pair of ears for children as they practice their reading skills, and provides stability support to our wounded warriors as they learn to walk again. Maverick’s size, at nearly 200 pounds, makes him a natural “rock” for many to lean on when his support is needed the most. Maverick’s natural ability to show love and support to all he encounters makes him a hero in the hearts of many, touching the lives of thousands across the nation with his work. Maverick’s endless capacity to love makes him the perfect candidate for the 2021 Hero Dog Awards. Please vote for my hero, Maverick.

Service Dog category

  • Sobee (Holt’s Summit, Missouri) – Once living hopelessly and suffering from human neglect with only two days left on the euthanasia list in an overcrowded shelter in Georgia, Sobee is now living a purposeful life with her combat veteran in Missouri. Sobee was rescued in 2016 by K9s on the Front Line and began her training as a service dog for a veteran seeking rescue to complete the daily tasks that each of us commonly engage. Jason Howe, a disabled combat veteran in Missouri, was secretly fighting the internal demons of PTSD and addiction after returning from two deployments in the U.S. Navy. While Jason spiraled into a dark place, he found himself in Maine, talking with a high school friend who introduced him to Dr. Hagen of K9s on the Front Line, a non-profit organization that rescues/trains service dogs for combat veterans. Sobee and Jason were paired together in 2016 and an instant bond was built between them. Jason began to feel the weight lift off his chest and he now had a sense of responsibility with Sobee by his side. Jason would put two feet on the ground each day instead of covering up in bed and self-medicating. Sobee is trained to assist Jason with panic attacks and watch over Jason when he is in public places. Sobee has also been the reason Jason found himself assisting and training service dogs for K9s on the Front Line’s Missouri chapter. The bonded pair are paying it forward by successfully training service dogs for veterans.
  • Bradley (Valdosta, Georgia) – In 2016, Ryan was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after being injured in Iraq and other deployments in support of the United States Air Force. The physical and mental aspects of his diagnosis began to have a negative impact on him and in 2018 he was introduced to Valor Service Dogs. What began as an outlet to volunteer turned into a need when his therapist recommended he apply for his own service dog. In January 2019, he received Bradley Valor. Bradley has saved Ryan’s life. He has allowed him to regain his independence and enjoy life again. For a long time, there were a lot of dark days, and now, with Bradley those come less often. Bradley is trained to assist with mobility issues that come with the traumatic brain injury and the symptoms associated with PTSD. Bradley is so in-tune with Ryan’s needs he is able to pick up on mannerisms or behaviors and then interrupt them to help Ryan return to the present moment. Thanks to Bradley, going out in public is easier, too. With Bradley by his side, he is now able to participate in normal daily activities like going to the grocery store or the doctor’s office, where those tasks used to be almost impossible. Bradley has allowed Ryan to get his life back and begin living again. Ryan and Bradley are both heroes, one for our country and the other for the handler who has been through so much.
  • Tommy II (Marietta, Pennsylvania) – When Ryan Boyles was first paired with Warrior Canine Connection service dog Tommy II and saw that they shared the same birthdate—April 30—he says he felt like their new partnership was fate. The duo graduated as part of WCC’s class of 2019 and since that time, the two have been inseparable. “Tommy has given me my freedom back to go and do stuff outside of my home and with my family,” said Ryan. “I really struggle with crowds and feeling trapped, and Tommy really helps me out with that. I used to not be a pleasant person to be around. He helps to calm me and bring balance to my life. My wife has told me she noticed an immediate difference in my temperament once I got Tommy.” Ryan served in the Air Force for nine years, working in multiple roles, including support of combat search and rescue and contingency response missions before being honorably discharged as a Staff Sergeant (E5) in 2015. Ryan completed multiple deployments, including in Djibouti and Uganda, Africa. Those missions forever changed him. As a result of his service, Ryan sustained various knee, hip and back injuries, and he also suffers from PTSD, anxiety and depression. “I used to have really bad nightmares to the point where I would wake up yelling, screaming and punching,” said Ryan. “As soon as I got Tommy—literally the day I got him—my nightmares subsided. I rarely ever get them now. He doesn’t have to be in our bed. His presence in our room next to our bed just helps me sleep.”

Military Dogs category

  • SSG Summer (Mt. Airy, Maryland) – My retired canine partner’s name is Staff Sergeant Summer, a 10-year-old female Labrador. Summer retired from the Marines Corps in 2013 as a Military Working Dog and proud war dog. She most recently retired as a Police Explosive Detection Dog after serving proudly for seven years. While deployed, she conducted a substantial number of routine patrols, searching for and positively identifying countless weapons caches and improvised explosive devices, swept and cleared routes for the troops and was involved in numerous fire fights with insurgents. Summer put her life on the line to protect, defend and save the lives of countless troops. As a result of these exposures in war zone environments and other traumatic events that Summer experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan, she was diagnosed with canine PTSD in December 2015. She copes with this condition daily. For her heroic, extraordinary valor and service to our country, Staff Sergeant Summer received the PDSA Commendation Award in July 2017 and the Lois Pope K9 Medal of Courage on Capitol Hill the following year. In retirement, SSG Summer continues to serve her country and fellow veterans by visiting them at the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, located in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. The veterans who reside at that location truly admire her story of service and enjoy the love and pats as she walks through their rooms.
  • MWD Edo (Ludowici, Georgia) – MWD Edo served in the Army from 2011-2020 as a Patrol Explosive Detection Dog. He deployed with his first handler to Kosovo in 2013.  During the deployment, Edo conducted over 100 missions ensuring the safety of multinational forces. Upon his return from Kosovo, Edo was moved from Italy to Germany where he continued his explosive detection capabilities.  From 2014 to 2019, MWD(R) Edo conducted countless explosive detection missions for dignitaries throughout Europe.  In 2019, Edo underwent surgery on his spine, leading to his retirement. In March 2020, Edo was scheduled to retire but could not officially retire until June. He was reunited with his first handler in August. Edo currently resides in Georgia where he is living up his retirement.
  • MWD Iiken M090 (Casa Grande, Arizona) – Iiken M090 is a retired military working dog and was trained as a Specialized Search Dog (explosives) assigned to the Army. In May 2009, he competed in an MWD competition in Missouri where he placed second in Detection and Explosives. Iiken was then deployed to Afghanistan with an Army Special Forces Unit in August 2009 where he was wounded by an IED. He was returned stateside for rehab and retraining and was then assigned to the Marine Corps where he went through another training session, deploying to Korea in 2014 and the Philippines later the same year. Iiken was retired from the MWD program in October 2016.  He was honored with a retirement ceremony at the local HOHP Veteran’s Center in 2017 and was also an honoree at the Veteran’s Day Parade later that same year. Iiken still attends various veteran functions, including the Annual Stand Down and was the only war dog to be enrolled! Iiken is quite the celebrity in his hometown of Casa Grande and has become an amazing advocate for military working dogs. Even at the ripe age of 14 (he will be 15 in June 2021), when he puts on his vest, he knows it is time to go meet and greet people. Iiken is a true American hero.

Guide/Hearing Dogs

  • Henna (Albuquerque, New Mexico) – I am deaf and legally blind. Henna, my amazing guide dog, has given me the freedom of travel and saves my life on a daily basis. She is an extension of my body, becoming my eyes and ears. Last year, while simply crossing a familiar intersection, I was nearly crushed by the trailer of an 18-wheeler. It was a sunny warm spring day and I was waiting with Henna to cross the road. After a few moments, Henna’s ear flick indicated it was our turn. I gave the forward command and we started crossing towards the opposite corner. We had reached the midway point when Henna suddenly backed up. She reversed so fast I knew instantly something was wrong. Her movement was strong, sure and deliberate, while ensuring I was not going to trip or fall. When Henna slowed enough for me to take in my surroundings, I could see a large truck was now completing a left turn in front of us.  No more than five feet away, the trailer wheels rumbled where Henna and I were only moments ago. After the trailer passed, she guided me safely across to the opposite curb without me prompting her. Despite me being in shock from almost being hit, Henna continued to perform her job perfectly. To this day, I can still see the trailer’s reflective strips in front of me and know that this was only one of many times she saved my life,
    while allowing me freedom. She continues to confidently guide me and acts as if it had never happened. I can almost see in her face and hear in her voice, “I got you, mom!  Just follow me.”
  • Wellie (Huntingdon, Pennsylvania) – Wellie is my Hearing Assistance Dog and has opened so many doors for me by giving me the confidence to grow into my true self. She has enabled me to explore new things, feel confident, safe, and aware in my home and of my surroundings while in public. Because of her, I’m not afraid to try new things. We are Dogs for Better Lives Ambassadors, Pet CPR/first aid instructors and teach ASL classes together. I’ve become a more outgoing, relaxed and joyful person. She is dedicated to her job as my hearing dog (my ears) 100% of the time. During these times of masking in public, she seems to work doubly hard to ensure that I am comfortable, safe, and aware. She has led me out of Walmart during an emergency fire alarm. While at physical therapy, she ensures that I am aware when the machine I am using is done and beeping. She makes sure that I am aware that my therapist has entered the room and is speaking to me. Not only does she alert me to the sounds she was trained for (oven timer, microwave, doorbell/door knock, telephone, smoke detector, alarm clock, or someone calling my name), she has chosen to alert me to sounds that are beyond her scope of training. I know when my cell phone buzzes, toaster pops, and Instant Pot or Air Fryer alerts. In public, she alerts me to timers beeping, people speaking, telephones ringing and so much more. She’s not only my hearing dog and ears, she’s my best friend, my pandemic partner, and my saving grace in a world so full of silence.
  • O’Hara (Canton, Massachusetts) – Once, while crossing a street, I gave O’Hara her “forward” command. As a guide dog it is not her decision to tell me when to cross, but rather it is her job to tell me if I made the right choice. While we were about halfway across the road, an oncoming car decided they no longer wanted to wait for us to fully cross. I felt the rush of the cold wind brush the back of my neck. as the air filled with a loud “whooshing” sound. Without hesitation, O’Hara pulled me safely to the curb with purpose. As I realized what had happened, I leaned down next to her crying. Hugging her, I thanked her for saving my life. If I had been using a white cane, this story may have ended differently. O’Hara saved my life, and never asked anything in return . . . except for love. She is my sweet guiding hero. This is only one instance of the many ways she has saved my life.

Law Enforcement category

  • K-9 Hansel (Millville, New Jersey) – K-9 Hansel was only 7 weeks old when he was seized from an alleged dog-fighting ring in Ontario, Canada. He never fought. He along with 20 other pit bulls were slated for euthanasia. After a 2-year-long battle with the Ontario courts, Hansel was then transferred to the Dogs Playing for Life shelter down in Florida. Throw Away Dogs project was then notified of a potential working dog candidate for their program. Hansel was accepted into the program for more training. The Millville Fire Department was looking for an accelerant detection K-9 and Hansel was a perfect fit. Hansel and I went through 16 weeks of scent training and we were later certified as an arson detection team. I believe that Hansel is the first pit bull certified in accelerant detection in the United States. Hansel can recognize 14 different ignitable liquid odors. He really is the best partner and a rock star. He was also honored as one of the dogs of the year featured on the CW network. If you Google K-9 Hansel you can see all the obstacles he has overcome and learn about his story in more detail. Thank you for reading and considering Hansel.
  • K-9 Sowell (Marriotsville, Maryland) – Like most of us, K-9 Sowell wasn’t sure what he wanted to be when he grew up. He started his career as a seeing-eye guide dog, but his love for others and excitement level made it clear that path was not the best fit. He changed careers and was sent to work with an arson dog trainer working to detect ignitable liquids. K-9 Sowell excelled in scent recognition and discrimination. You could say he has a nose for the job. He can sniff out a wide variety of ignitable liquids often used to accelerate a fire. In 2019, K-9 Sowell met Captain Craig Matthews of Howard County Fire & Rescue. They bonded instantly, and it was clear they would become a great team. K-9 Sowell works about 75 fire scenes annually, covering 2,100 square miles in Maryland. The scenes include fatal fires, homicides involving fires, and building and vehicle fires. With K-9 Sowell’s scent discrimination abilities, he can identify evidence within a few minutes compared to the countless hours fire investigators would spend trying to dig through fire debris to locate evidence at a fire scene. His skills have assisted in bringing closure to families and finding evidence resulting in the arrests of arsonists. When K-9 Sowell is not working fire scenes he spends most of his time training, making public appearances to raise awareness of fire safety, and deterring the crime of arson. He loves playing ball and a good old belly rub! The partnership of K-9 Sowell and Captain Matthews truly goes beyond the badge and they are now bonded for life.
  • K-9 Marek (Appleton, Maine) – K9 Marek didn’t start his path like most police dogs. He was bought by a family to be a house pet. However, they quickly realized he was a little more than they could handle. After much debate, they returned Marek to the breeder, and that is where our story begins. I already had a dog about to start training when we found out she had a heart conditions and couldn’t work. I was now a handler with no dog. Marek was with the breeder who happened to be my trainer! He said, “I have a dog!” And boy, did he, Marek is 98 pounds of wonderful German Shepherd and was ready to work. He needed a job and it showed. Marek comes from a long line of working K-9s and just wasn’t meant to be a house pet. Marek and I started training in January of 2019 and were patrol certified in October of the same year. After certification, Marek and I faced a huge mountain. We were now the only K-9 team in the entire county and one of only three teams that covered three counties! We knew we had our work cut out for us and we were ready.  In the picture you can see Marek is proud of his new work life and happy getting his reward after a good training track! The working life was what he was meant for. Once we started work, Marek quickly made a name for himself. We have tracked burglary suspects, elderly people lost in the woods, suicidal subjects that ran away from a house, and domestic violence suspects that fled into the woods. We also enjoy when Marek joins me at a local school as we reach DARE to grades K-8.

Shelter Dogs category

  • Balto (Oakland Park, Florida) – Baby Balto was surrendered to our 501c3 animal rescue with hydrocephalus. He was blind and couldn’t walk. After an MRI and medical treatment, our amazing team would not give up and worked day and night rehabilitating baby Balto. Today, Balto can see and walk – living proof to never give up. Balto teaches us that daily love wins as we continue to work and love him back to a life with unconditional love and patience. God only sends you what he believes you can handle. Every day is a precious gift for baby Balto and for each and every one of us.
  • Colt (Severn, Maryland) – In August 2019, we received a call from a local shelter mentioning that several working dogs had been dumped there. There were three Belgian Malinoises that were brothers, two of which were chosen for a local law enforcement department. The third brother, however, was very timid and was starting to shut down in the shelter environment. We decided that, with the help of American Belgian Malinois Rescue, we could foster the third brother, Colt. When we went to pick up Colt from the shelter, he was terrified. Once home, though, he quickly adapted quickly to his new environment and slowly started to shine. Within the first six months, we had him involved in dock diving, barn hunt and Fast CAT activities. Colt improved with each event, earning him an invitation to the Dockdog World Championships, competing in the same class with some of the world’s biggest jumping dogs. His 2020 season’s biggest jump was 26 feet and 3 inches. In addition to attending the championships, Colt earned his Novice title in barnhunt at the end of 2020. It is remarkable to see the transition in this scared shelter pup, who only a year before was in complete shutdown mode. Now, he is the 4th-ranked jumping Malinois in the world! More than his athletic prowess and incredible nose, he is a total sweetheart, living his absolute best life!
  • Deputy Chance (Cape Coral, Florida) – Chance was a victim of animal abuse in Lee County, Florida. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office investigated the animal cruelty case and used forensics evidence to identify a suspect and subsequently get a conviction. Chance was adopted by Lieutenant Castellon and deputized by Sheriff Carmine Marceno. Deputy Chance is the spokesdog for the public affairs unit at the Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Chance was also named a Good Will Ambassador by the county commissioners. He regularly visits schools, hospitals, and community events. He promotes good will, has become an advocate against animal cruelty and helps promote adoption of shelter pets. Deputy Chance is the face of the Deputy Dogs Person Patrol program in Lee County, Florida.

Search and Rescue Dogs category

  • Liberty’s Baby (Chillicothe, Ohio) – Liberty’s Baby was found abandoned in the woods in Liberty Township, Ohio, along with her three puppies. They were barely surviving, eating from a deer carcass. Baby was shy and had to be coaxed out of the woods. She was very thin, with her ribs and backbone showing. Baby was also suffering from a serious insect and parasite infestation and was immediately taken to a veterinarian and treated. After Baby’s health improved and she got a clean bill of health, she started to show potential as a search dog. With lots of hard work and training, Baby then passed her human remains detection test through the National Association for Search and Rescue, becoming a certified cadaver dog. Baby went from being abandoned in the woods, to becoming a nationally certified search K-9. We like to say: “Liberty’s Baby is now a rescue who rescues!”
  • Little Man (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) – All dogs are heroes, but Little Man takes it to a new level. NASAR-certified, he ranges off-leash for a specific human scent or the scent of any human. His joyous spirit and amazing work ethic have won him friends with law enforcement and SAR personnel in multiple states. But his story did not begin well. In 2013, a monster tornado ground the city of Moore, Oklahoma into rubble. The carnage was terrible. Molly Gibb, a professional SAR volunteer, worked with animal control and the American Humane Rescue team to meet the animal response needs. Five days after the storm, a tiny pit bull puppy was found buried. It was a miracle that he survived. He came to be known as Little Man. When he went unclaimed, Molly adopted him as she thought he had something special. His intelligence, drive, curiosity, athleticism and upbeat nature made him a great candidate for search and rescue work. Little Man’s trainability, determination and affinity for people epitomizes just what can make many pit bulls great working dogs. He balances SAR training and deploying with participating in youth programs and serving as a neutral helper dog for shelter and adjudicated dogs in need. For him, searching is a great game, but in reality it can mean life or death. In 2020, he found a missing traumatized assault victim alive, bringing his life full circle. He has grown from tornado survivor to hero and has fully blossomed in public service, eagerly paying it forward by helping families and communities in crisis and graciously welcoming their love in return.
  • Ty (The Woodlands, Texas) – Ty, the K-9 multitool, has spent his entire life serving his country (both in the United States and overseas) since first certifying as a Human Remains Detection K-9 with a national police service dog organization in 2010. Ty was certified to locate human remains on land, underground, underwater and in rubble. Ty participated in three overseas deployments (Iraq 2011 and Afghanistan in both 2014 and 2015) when our government requested HRD K-9’s to find the remains of our missing service members and contractors. The actual deployments that he was a part of for those years are still classified. His contributions to the mission were significant. Between overseas deployments, Ty worked in the U.S. helping law enforcement locate the remains of the missing. Ty worked and certified every year until his retirement in 2016 when his trainer bought him back so he could spend the rest of his life in the style he deserved. Ty’s trainer, who also certified both of my HRD K9’s multiple times, received a job offer that prevented Ty from going with her so I was given the honor, duty and responsibility of taking care of Ty for the rest of his life. After bringing him into my pack, it was apparent he still wanted to work. I knew he couldn’t continue with HRD work so we took and passed the Alliance of Therapy Dogs certification in 2018. Ty has gone to multiple unattended veteran funerals at the Texas State Veterans Cemetery and visited nursing homes and a hospital. Ty is a great, inspirational example of a true American hero dog!

During the past 10 years, Americans have cast millions of votes for more than 1,000 dogs, all seeking the coveted title of American Hero Dog. The program reaches billions of 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 Jay Leno, Billy Crystal, Betty White, Ariel Winter, Vivica A. Fox, Rebecca Romijn, Alison Sweeney, James Denton, Beth Stern, Faithe Herman, Marcus Scribner, Bindi Irwin, Derek Hough, Richard Marx, Katharine McPhee, Michelle Beadle, Whoopi Goldberg, Denise Richards, Lisa Vanderpump, Chelsea Handler, Martin Short, Jewel, Wilson Phillips, John Ondrasik, Carson Kressley, Miranda Lambert, Pauley Perrette, Kristen Chenoweth, Naomi Judd, Eric Stonestreet, Danica McKellar, Bailee Madison and many more.

Key dates for the 2021 American Humane Hero Dog Awards contest include:

  • 1st Round Voting: March 25 – May 6
  • 2nd Round Voting: May 27 – July 15
  • 3rd Round Voting: July 29 – September 7
  • Hero Dog Awards gala:             November 12

All rounds open and close at 12 p.m. Pacific Time. And because behind every hero pet is a hero vet or veterinary nurse, please be sure to cast a daily vote until July 29 for your favorites in the 2021 American Humane Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Nurse Awards®, sponsored by Zoetis Petcare (a U.S. business unit of Zoetis) right here:

“The American Humane Hero Dog Awards are our way of honoring the best of our best friends,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane president and CEO. “This unique effort brings attention to the life-changing, life-saving power of the human-animal bond – something that has been a core part of our organization’s mission since 1877.”

“The Hero Dog Awards celebrate America’s often unsung heroes,” said philanthropist and Platinum Presenting Sponsor Lois Pope. “From those who defend our country to those who help us heal, guide us, protect us, and help find the lost, every single contender exemplifies the courage and heroism we seek to spotlight in this campaign. Our goal is not only to honor these magnificent dogs but to inspire America to reflect on the outsized contributions that animals make in our lives each and every day.”

For more information about the 2021 American Humane Hero Dog Awards, and to vote daily, please visit For more information on sponsorship opportunities, email Mari Harner at [email protected]  or call 1-800-227-4645.

About American Humane

American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization, founded in 1877. For more information, please visit Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter and to inquire about Hero Dog Awards sponsorship opportunities, please email Mari Harner at [email protected].

About Lois Pope, The Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., and LIFE (Leaders in Furthering Education)

As one of America’s leading philanthropists, Lois Pope has positively impacted the lives of individuals at the local, national and international levels.  She has established three separate organizations dedicated to helping those in need.  These organizations are the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., Leaders In Furthering Education (LIFE), and the Disabled Veterans’ LIFE Memorial Foundation.  For more than 20 years she has been the driving force behind the Lois Pope LIFE Center at the University of Miami School of Medicine, The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, and a groundbreaking new program with American Humane in Palm Beach County. Lois Pope recently donated to American Humane several Lois Pope Rescue Vehicles. Each rescue vehicle is a 50-foot long response unit, complete with a Ford F-350 truck and trailer, which is specifically designed and outfitted to provide an array of animal emergency services and cruelty responses within a region.

On Oct. 5, 2014, Mrs. Pope saw the completion of a decades-long dream – the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, which was dedicated by President Obama in Washington DC.  It will stand in perpetuity as a reminder to the public and legislators of the courage and sacrifices of the four million-plus living disabled veterans and all those who died before them, as well as the need to be vigilant in assuring their support and understanding the human cost of war.  Through her advocacy, Oct. 5 every year will serve as a National Day of Honor for disabled veterans.

A mother, a grandmother, and a great grandmother, Lois has trained for and completed five New York City Marathons.

About Hallmark Channel

Hallmark Channel, owned by Hallmark Cards, Inc., is Crown Media Family Networks’ flagship 24-hour cable television network.  As the country’s leading destination for quality family entertainment, Hallmark Channel delivers on the 100-year legacy of the Hallmark brand.  The network features an ambitious lineup of original content, including movies, scripted primetime series, and a lifestyle show, “Home & Family.”  Additionally, Hallmark Channel is the exclusive home to world premiere presentations of the acclaimed Hallmark Hall of Fame franchise.  Dedicated to helping viewers celebrate life’s special moments, Hallmark Channel also offers annual holiday programming franchises including Countdown to Christmas and many other seasonal offerings. Rounding out the network’s slate are some of television’s most beloved comedies and series, including The Golden Girls and Frasier.

For more information, please visit

To visit the network website, please visit

Hallmark Channel on Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube

Our first-responders are there when animals need them most

From natural disasters to animal cruelty investigations, we are on the front lines protecting animals in times of crisis.

Contribute Volunteer