The 2013 Hero Dog Awards seeks 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, Search and Rescue Dogs, Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Guide Dogs and Hearing Dogs.
In the world of Search and Rescue operations, dogs have a very special place. their keen sense of smell, excellent night vision, extremely sensitive hearing and endurance have made them crucial in efforts to locate people who are missing or trapped.
The Law Enforcement/Arson Dog category includes what we often think of as police dogs, and animals specially trained to detect drugs, explosives or incendiary devices. Their human handlers think of them not as pets but as partners, and their communities consider them to be law enforcement officers.
Last week I highlighted two dogs that are among the eight finalists for the Hero Dog Award, sponsored by the American Humane Association. SD Bronx was nominated in the Service Dog Category, and “Three Legged Cassidy” represents the Emerging Hero Dog category.
John D, a rescued dog himself, is nominated in the Search and Rescue Dogs group. His owner, who adopted him as a puppy from an Arkansas animal shelter, began taking him on search and rescues when he was less than six months old. He helped in Nashville after the floods there, and in Joplin after the tornadoes. Thanks to recent specialized training, he can use that fabulous nose to determine just by scent if a patient has ovarian or thyroid cancer.
Like last year’s winner in this category, John D’s charity partner is the Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve, created by and named for the dog that was the 2011 winner in this category.
K9 Lakota, a German Shepherd from Georgia, is nominated in the Law Enforcement/Arson Dog category. His remarkable career includes almost a hundred apprehensions, seizures of drugs, vehicles and cash, and recovery of stolen property. But his career ended abruptly after four years of service; he and his partner, Officer Travis Fox, were badly injured when their police car was involved in an accident. Fox was airlifted to a hospital, and Lakota was taken to an emergency animal clinic, then to the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. Officer Fox has returned to duty, but Lakota, whose injuries included three broken legs, was retired from service. The officer’s family now claims him as one of their own.
Kp Lakota's charity partner is K9s4COPS, an organization that works to make sure every law enforcement officer that needs a K-9 partner has one trained and ready to help stop criminals in the act, and sniff out illegal drugs, bombs and the cause of fires.
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.