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Meet the Most Heroic Dogs of 2016

These dogs who stole the show and everyone’s hearts at American Humane Association’s annual Hero Dog Awards.

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Each year, the American Humane Association hosts their Hero Dog Awards. This night is dedicated to 8 amazing dogs who have in the past year, have helped the world become a better place.

Each dog has an inspiring story that is told about them and each is very different from the rest. The 8 categories for the AHA Hero Dog awards include: Emerging Hero Award, Arson Dog Award, Law Enforcement Dog Award, Service Dog Award, Search and Rescue Dog Award, Military Dog Award, Guide/Hearing Dog Award, and finally, the Therapy Dog Award. Check out this year’s winners and their stories below!

1. Emerging Hero

Meet Hooch. Hooch, the French Mastiff, won the night’s award for Emerging Hero. After being saved by Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue, Hooch began his recovery from being used as a “bait dog” for gang dog fighting. He came into care very dehydrated and malnourished and was fearful of people. After the love and care given to him by Marley’s Mutts, he has a fresh start. He can now be hand fed, and works as a therapy dog to abused and special needs children.

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2. Arson Dog

This is Judge. Judge spends his time at the Allentown Fire Department in Pennsylvania. His duties include investigating fire scenes and with his help, there has been a 52.7% drop in arson fires in Allentown. To keep help maintain safety and reduce arsonists, Judge also helps with fire safety programs at local schools and crime watch groups!

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3. Law Enforcement Dog

Another well-deserved American Humane Association Hero Dog was a law enforcement K-9 named Edo. In addition to serving every day with fellow officers, Edo assisted his human partner, Officer Huynh in the arrest of two suspects wanted for robbery and murder. While in pursuit of the suspects, Edo followed the gunman into a home where he began shooting at an innocent family. Edo engaged the gunman, distracting him from the family, and ended up saving their lives!

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4. Service Dog

Gander, and his handler, Lon Hodge are creating change at every turn. As a service dog for PTSD for veteran suicide, Gander is an ambassador for the world of invisible and visible disabilities. He and his handler have traveled to more than 36 states on their mission to raise money for veterans groups and service dog charities and are the first duo in the country to have sponsored service dog education.

Along with being an AHA Hero Dog, he was also awarded the American Kennel Club’s, “Award of Canine Excellence” for his work as a service dog.

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5. Search and Rescue Dog

This is Kobuk. With strong dedication and a sharp nose, Kobuk saved a 77 year old woman with diabetes and dementia who was reported missing in the woods of Maine. After more than 2 days of being stranded, lost and alone without food, water or medication, Kobuk found the woman on the brink of death and saved her life.

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6. Military Dog

As a military service dog, Kayka was no stranger to combat. While serving in Afghanistan, Layka was sent to search for injured combatants and was shot 4 times from enemy fire. After saving the lives of her fellow human soldiers, Kayka was rushed to a hospital where her front leg was later removed. Since her surgery, Kayka is as active and happy as ever and has yet to slow down.

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7. Guide/Hearing Dog

Small but mighty, Hook spends every moment protecting and helping his human. This 12-pound dog has saved his human from being hit by an oncoming train and from a home intruder. His work doesn’t stop there. Hook also enjoys going to work with his human who works as a family therapist. He comforts clients and families who are often emotional during sessions.

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8. Therapy Dog

We ALWAYS save the best for last. At just 4 years old, Mango was facing euthanasia because of her paralyzed back legs. A rescue heard her story and saved her from her circumstances and was placed in a group that pairs disabled veterans with disabled dogs. The program works to motivate veterans to live life to the fullest by pairing them with dogs who have overcome similar disabilities. Mango also works to help other animals through a program called, “Mango’s Freedom Wheels” which helps purchase wheelchairs for pets in need.

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