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Who’s a Good Dog? More than 400 of Humankind’s Best Friends Nominated for Chance to Become Nation’s Top Hero Dog

Public Voting Now Open to Choose Semifinalists for 2021 American Humane Hero Dog Awards®

Sponsored by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, national campaign to culminate in a two-hour special on Hallmark Channel this fall

WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, March 25, 2021 — Every dog has its day, and more than 400 of the nation’s most wonderful dogs are hoping that day will come for them this fall during the 11th annual American Humane Hero Dog Awards®.  Now it’s up to America to help decide which of these dogs will take home the top prize – being named 2021’s American Hero Dog, the highest honor a dog can receive – at the awards, which are sponsored by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation and will be broadcast as a two-hour special on Hallmark Channel this fall.

“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 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 144 years.”

“The Hero Dog Awards recognize some of America’s bravest heroes,” said philanthropist and Platinum Presenting Sponsor Lois Pope. “I am honored to present this invaluable effort to honor the best of our best friends and shine a light on the extraordinary acts of courage and kindness performed by ordinary dogs.”

Dog lovers across the country are invited to visit and vote once per day for their favorite dogs in each of seven categories. After the first round of voting ends on May 6th, 21 semifinalists (the top three in each category) will move on to the second round of voting. From this pool, the field will narrow down to the seven category finalists. The winning dog in each category will take part in the nationally televised Hero Dog Awards this fall and this year’s top American Hero Dog will be revealed.

The seven categories for 2021 are: Military Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Law Enforcement/Detection Dogs; Service Dogs; Shelter Dogs; Search and Rescue Dogs; and Guide/Hearing Dogs.

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: Coming this fall

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 starting June 10 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:

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)

Philanthropist Lois Pope is widely recognized as the country’s foremost advocate for disabled veterans, earning her the moniker “The Pope of Disabled Veterans.” She conceived and spearheaded the building in Washington DC of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, dedicated on October 5, 2014 as the nation’s permanent tribute to the four million living disabled American veterans and to all who are no longer living.

Ms. Pope combines her commitment to disabled veterans with her ardent support of animal welfare. Through her partnership with American Humane, she advocated for language in the National Defense Reauthorization Act for provisions for the return home to U.S. soil of military dogs that served alongside American soldiers on the front lines of combat. Also, military working dogs have a permanent physical tribute to their courage thanks to Mrs. Pope’s endowment of the soon-to-be-dedicated American Military Hero Dog Monument, located at Tri-County Animal Rescue in Boca Raton. In cooperation with American Humane, she created the K9 Medal of Courage, the highest honor given to military service dogs, and the Pups4Patriots initiative, within the Lois Pope LIFE Center for Military Affairs at American Humane. This program trains shelter dogs as therapy dogs that are given free of charge to veterans suffering from PTSD and other traumatic brain injuries.

Her love of animals recently inspired Mrs. Pope to give the largest donation ever received by the Tri-County Animal Rescue to endow its new 9,000-square-foot veterinary center which houses The Lois Pope Pet Clinic. The Clinic is the first in the region providing low-cost, and sometimes no-cost, veterinary care to low-income families for their pets. It is also the home of a Pups4Patriots training site.

The recent impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children in need led Mrs. Pope to make a significant gift to the Palm Beach County Food Bank to endow Lois’ Food4Kids, its meal program for kids in Palm Beach County. In 1996, Mrs. Pope endowed the Lois Pope LIFE Center at the University of Miami School of Medicine, which houses the Miami Project/Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, a center for research, treatment, and services for paralysis and other neurological diseases; and in 2019 she endowed the Lois Pope Center for Retinal & Macular Degeneration Research, in memory of her mother at Bascom Palmer’s Palm Beach Gardens, Florida campus.

Ms. Pope is a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother; has adopted and rescued several dogs and cats; is a resident of Manalapan, FL., and 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.

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