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"The American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards celebrate the important role dogs play in our lives," said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Association president and CEO.
CHICAGO, IL, September 05, 2016 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Gander Service Dog, battle buddy to a disabled Army veteran, has added another jewel to his crown. He has been selected as the nation's Service Dog Hero for 2016. He and his handler will fly to Hollywood for the annual awards gala with entertainment and animal advocacy celebrities from around the world.
America has spoken and following more than half a million votes cast by animal lovers across the country and a celebrity panel of dog lovers and experts, eight courageous canines were named winners in 2016 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards , presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation. These heroic canines each took top honors in their individual categories from a field of 173 initial nominees and now a combination of America's voters and a panel of celebrity judges will determine which dog will take home top honors as the 2016 American Hero Dog. The public is invited to submit one vote per day through August 24 at www.herodogawards.org. The eight finalists will be flown to Los Angeles to take part in the star-studded Hero Dog Awards gala on September 10 at the Beverly Hilton, which will be broadcast as a two-hour special on Hallmark Channel in late October. The eight category winners for 2016 are:
MILITARY DOG Layka from Galena, KS
ARSON DOG Judge from Allentown, PA
SERVICE DOG Gander from Great Lakes, IL and Denver, Colorado
EMERGING HERO DOG Hooch from Tehachapi, CA
LAW ENFORCEMENT DOG K-9 Roo from Boston, MA
SEARCH AND RESCUE DOG Kobuk from York, ME
GUIDE/HEARING DOG Hook from Sacramento, CA
THERAPY DOG Mango from Las Cruces, NM)
Each of the eight finalists won $2,500 for their designated charity partner and if Gander wins the overall award, he will win an additional $5,000 for a grand total of $7,500 for his charity Canine Companions for Independence.
Over the past five years, millions of votes have been cast 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.
"It is an honor to support an effort to recognize the valor of our 'best friends,'" said philanthropist Lois Pope, who has been the awards' presenting sponsor for five years. "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 the Hero Dog Awards campaign. Through this national forum we have helped educate America about the lifesaving, life-affirming work of our nation's canine heroes."
Gander was saved from certain death in Colorado, and was rescued by a women's prison program in Denver, for obedience training. He was then trained by Freedom Service Dogs in Englewood, Colorado. It was there in September 2012 that his handler and Gander became a team. They have not spent one day apart since then and he credits Gander with literally saving his life. In 2014, Gander was the first mixed breed dog to win the American Kennel Club "Award for Canine Excellence." Gander is on a mission. He travels the United States - 36 states so far - to encourage education and awareness for PTS, veteran suicide, service dogs, and persons with visible and invisible disabilities. While traveling, the team performs Planned Acts of Community Kindness (PACKS), and fundraising. They have been instrumental in helping to raise a million dollars for numerous veterans' groups, veterans, service dog charities, and individuals in need. They sponsored the country's first service dog education conference, and have given hundreds of presentations to schools and community organizations. The team created a collection of inspirational dog stories entitled, "In Dogs We Trust." They love to visit hospitals, USOs and community events as service dog ambassadors. They also won the 2014-15 AKC Award for Canine Excellence, the Rotary Club Humanitarian Patriot Award and the 10th Congressional District Veterans Leadership Award in 2016.
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