The 2016 Hero Dog Awards seek to find and recognize dogs who help people in many important ways. Dogs are nominated in one of eight categories: Service Dogs, Emerging Hero Dogs, Law Enforcement Dogs, Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs.
The Law Enforcement Dog category includes what we often think of as police dogs, animals specially trained to patrol, search buildings, track criminals, and to detect drugs, narcotics and explosive devices.
The Arson Dog category includes animals trained to sniff out accelerants that may have been used to start a fire. Every year hundreds of lives (and billions of dollars in property) are lost as a result of fires that were set intentionally. The dog works with a handler who is a law enforcement officer trained to investigate fire scenes.
Last week I highlighted two dogs that are among the eight finalists for this year’s Hero Dog Award, sponsored by the American Humane Association. “Gander” was nominated in the Service Dog Category, and “Hooch” represents the Emerging Hero Dog category.
K-9 Edo, a member of the Los Angeles Police Department, is nominated in the Law Enforcement Dog category. On New Year’s Day of this year, he and his handler were on duty and responded when a carjacking suspect tried to evade police by entering a house, where a father and his sons were inside. He stabbed the father in the face and attempted to shoot the children, but his gun temporarily jammed. Edo was able to enter the house and engage the shooter who had begun firing at the officers. At that point the suspect shot himself. Edo’s courageous actions saved the lives of the police officers, the father and his sons. K-9 Edo’s charity partner is K9s4COPS.
Judge, a 7-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever in Allentown, Pennsylvania, is nominated in the Arson Dog Category. He has worked more than 275 fire scenes in his career, finding evidence that has led to criminal arrests and prosecution for insurance fraud. He is very good at his job, the number of arson fires in Allentown has dropped by over half since he started on the job. When they are not investigating fires for the Allentown Fire Department, Judge and his human partner, Chief Lee Laubach, do fire safety programs and demonstrations, and school programs. His abilities are so well known that when local media reported the dog was investigating a house fire, the perpetrators turned themselves in and confessed; they knew that with Judge on the job, they were bound to get caught. His charity partner is Paws With A Cause. His Facebook Page is “JudgeAFD”.
To learn more about the Hero Dog Awards and this year’s finalists, visit the website at HeroDogAwards.org. You can vote for the finalist you think should be America’s Hero Dog, because some heroes have four legs, when we’re speaking of pets.