A pit bull from Roanoke Rapids, N.C. has been named this year's "American Hero Dog" at the 2013 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards. Elle the pit bull is a therapy dog who helps teach children to read and how to overcome prejudice and stereotypes. On Saturday night, Ella and her human Leah Brewer were presented with the top honors at the Hero Dog Awards gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.
More than a million votes were cast to determine the eight finalists chosen from 141 dogs from across the country. The winner was then chosen based on votes by the public and by a panel of animal advocates and celebrity judges.
Dr. Robin Ganzert, President and CEO of American Humane Association, said "Choosing a top dog is difficult because they are all so terrific, but we are proud to announce Elle as the top American Hero Dog for 2013. As an organization that for years has fought breed-specific legislation (BSL), we are also pleased to honor a breed that has often been unjustly maligned." Ganzert added, "We hope that Elle's story will help to underscore the many tremendously positive qualities of this breed."
Winners in other categories include Cassidy from Midvale, Utah in the Emerging Hero Dogs Category. Cassidy was found under a pile of trash along the side of the highway. He had been hit by a car and his front leg had to be amputated. Cassidy now is an advocate for special needs rescues.
K9 Lakota from Locust Grove, Ga. won for the Law Enforcement/Arson Category. Serving with Officer Travis Fox, K9 Lakota made more than 80 apprehensions, 28 drug seizures, six vehicle seizures, and the recovery of stolen property, with $60,000 seized.
John D of Little Rock, Ark. won in the Search and Rescue Category. John D uses his remarkable scenting ability to detect cancers in humans. John D has also helped find missing persons involved in kidnappings, disasters, drownings, and other emergencies.
CWD Carlos EDD of Colorado Springs won in the Military Dog Category. The Explosive Detection Dog retired in 2011 at the age of eight, after protecting forces for nearly five years. Carlos is credited with finds on missions that saved the lives of many American soldiers
Jingles, trained to work in tandem with a second service dog, is winner in the Guide Dog Category; Lola, who helps her deaf partner Charlene and improves the quality of her life, won in the Hearing Dog Category, and SD Bronx for getting help for 14-year-old Christopher by alerting him--and others--when the boys seizures were about to happen, won in the Service Dog Category.
Saturday’s gala was hosted by television and movie star Joey Lawrence, and celebrities in attendance at the awards included Betty White, Victoria Stillwell, Naomi Judd, Jennifer Coolidge, Esai Morales, Ryan O'Neal, and many more.
Hero Dog Awards premieres on Hallmark Channel October 30, 2013 at 8 p.m. EST.
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