(Welcome to the weekly pet column of Pet Connection Programs Inc. of Marilla, N.Y. A new article is posted each week, so be sure to check back on a regular basis!)
America’s animal lovers have spoken, and after more than half a million votes from across the country, 21 courageous canines are advancing to the semifinal rounds of the 2018 American Humane Hero Dog Awards, sponsored by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation and Zoetis, and broadcast nationally on Hallmark Channel.
The heroic hounds were chosen by the American public to advance to the semifinals from a field of 266 remarkable candidates. The public is now invited to visit www.HeroDogAwards.org between now and July 11 to vote once per day for their favorite in one of the seven Hero Dog categories. The seven finalists will be flown to Los Angeles to take part in the star-studded eighth annual Hero Dog Awards gala on Sept. 29 at the Beverly Hilton, where one will be chosen as the 2018 American Hero Dog, the top honor a dog can receive. This must-watch event for animal lovers will be broadcast in the fall as a two-hour special on Hallmark Channel.
In both the semifinal and final rounds of the competition, the winners will be determined through a combination of votes by the public and a special celebrity judging panel. New judges for the 2018 Hero Dog Awards campaign represent a variety of celebrity dog lovers including: Miranda Lambert, Kristin Chenoweth, Carson Kressley, Carrie Ann Inaba, Erik Estrada, Jamie Chung, Michelle Beadle, Danielle Fishel, Mark Steines and Carlos and Alexa PenaVega. Returning judges include Lisa Vanderpump, Adrienne Maloof, Bailee Madison, Carolyn Hennesy, Ashlan and Philippe Cousteau, Laura Nativo, Lorenzo Borghese and 2011 Arson Hero Dog winner Jerry Means.
The top dogs in each category will win $2,500 for their designated charity partner and the winning 2018 American Hero Dog’s charity partner will receive an additional $5,000 for a grand total of $7,500. Each charity partner is dedicated to advancing the role of dogs in our lives and, as with American Humane, focuses on the importance of the powerful connection between people and animals.
The seven categories for 2018 are: Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, sponsored by K-9 Courage from Zoetis Petcare (a U.S. business unit of Zoetis); Military Dogs, sponsored by K-9 Courage from Zoetis Petcare; Therapy Dogs, sponsored by Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food, the official pet food of the 2018 Hero Dog Awards; Service Dogs, sponsored by Modern Dog magazine; Emerging Hero Dogs, a category that pays tribute to ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things; Search and Rescue Dogs; and Guide/Hearing Dogs.
Over the past seven years, Americans have cast millions of votes for more than a thousand dogs, all seeking the coveted title of American Hero Dog. The program reaches more than one billion people each year and draws the support and participation of top celebrity dog lovers from all over the world. Hosts, judges, award presenters, and entertainment acts have included Jay Leno, Billy Crystal, Pauley Perrette, Katharine McPhee, Alison Sweeney, Bindi Irwin, Derek Hough, Betty White, Whoopi Goldberg, Denise Richards, Gary Sinise, Chelsea Handler, Martin Short, Jewel, Wilson Phillips, John Ondrasik, Naomi Judd, Lori Loughlin, Eric Stonestreet, Danica McKellar, and many, many more.
“For thousands of years, mankind has had a special relationship with dogs, and the American Humane Hero Dog Awards are our way of honoring the best of our best friends,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane president and CEO. “This unique awards show celebrates the unbreakable human-animal bond, which has been a core part of our organization’s mission since 1877.”
“The Hero Dog Awards recognize some of America’s bravest heroes on both ends of the leash,” said philanthropist and presenting sponsor Lois Pope. “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 this campaign. Our goal is not only to honor these magnificent dogs but to inspire America to reflect on the outsized contributions that animals make in our lives each and every day.”
Key dates for the 2018 American Humane Hero Dog Awards contest include:
• Second-round voting: May 16 – July 11
• Third-round voting: July 25 – Sept. 5
• American Humane Hero Dog Awards event in Los Angeles – Sept. 29
For more information about the 2018 American Humane Hero Dog Awards and to vote daily in the contest, please visit www.herodogawards.org.
(For more information on pets and animal adoption, please visit www.petconnectionprogramsinc.com. Or, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PetConnectionProgramsinc. Located in Marilla, N.Y., Pet Connection Programs Inc. is a nonprofit maternity and special care shelter founded in 1984.)