No Home Doesn’t Mean No Hope: Free Clinic Helps Pets of the Homeless

More than half a million Americans today are homeless, and experts estimate that between 5-20 percent of them live with a pet, depending on the region of the country. Homeless pet owners have plenty of love for these loyal companions, but often lack the financial ability to give their best friend the kind of healthcare they need. To help the animal companions of the homeless, American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, held the first of a nationwide series of free veterinary clinics to provide lifesaving services to these beloved pets, including exams and vaccinations, including rabies with certificate, deworming, flea, tick and mite treatment, microchipping, nail trimming, treatment for infected skin and ears, and treatment for arthritis and other pain-related conditions. Vital support and medical supplies for the Los Angeles clinic were provided by VIP Petcare and The People Concern.

“As a veterinarian overseeing the American Humane Rescue program, my job is to help those in greatest need,” says Dr. Kwane Stewart, Chief Veterinary Officer for American Humane, which has been saving and sheltering animals in disasters for more than 100 years, and administers the “No Animals Were Harmed®” program, helping ensure the safety and well-being of animals in film and television. “Perhaps the most overlooked animals in America are those who serve as the closest companions to those without homes. American Humane has been working for 140 years to unleash and unlock the power of the human-animal bond; By serving these most vulnerable animals, we can touch not one but two lives.”

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Hickman’s Family Farms Earn American Humane Certified Seal

American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization and the largest certifier of animal welfare in the world, today announced that Hickman’s Family Farms has achieved humane certification for their cage-free eggs through the American Humane Certified™ program. In doing so, Hickman’s Family Farms is pursuing a humane path that is in line with national survey results by American Humane showing overwhelming support for humanely raised foods. The survey found that 94.9 percent of Americans said they were very concerned about farm animal welfare and more than three-quarters (75.7%) were willing to pay more for humanely raised eggs, meat and dairy products. American Humane now certifies more than 90 percent of all cage-free eggs in the United States.

In order to qualify as an American Humane Certified producer, Hickman’s Family Farms had to meet the program’s rigorous standards, which include meeting some 200 science-based standards covering everything from adequate space to proper temperature, air quality and much more. In addition, they voluntarily agreed to undergo rigorous, yearly audits by professional auditors to ensure the standards are being implemented.

“We believe that all animals – those in our homes, those in service to our country, and those on our nation’s farms and ranches – deserve humane treatment,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “By becoming an American Humane Certified producer, Hickman’s Family Farms helps assure their consumers that the food on their plates was raised humanely and under the science- and evidence-based protections established by American Humane. We applaud them for their extraordinary commitment to good animal welfare.”

“Our family is now celebrating our seventy-third year providing fresh eggs to our customers,” said Clint Hickman, vice president of Hickman’s Family Farms. “Our Grandmother, Nell Hickman started our business with the goal of taking care of her hens as she took care of her family. We are very happy attaining the American Humane Certified certification. We view this certification as another step in verifying to our customers that the care and welfare of our hens is of utmost importance to not only our customers, but also to our family, employees and the communities in which we live.”

The American Humane Certified program is the nation’s first and largest farm animal welfare certification and audit program, developed by the organization to advance protections for farm animals and ensure they are raised and handled humanely. Independent, third-party audits cover more than 200 species-specific criteria which are rooted in the internationally accepted Five Freedoms of animal welfare. These science-based standards are set and regularly reviewed by an independent Scientific Advisory Committee of the nation’s top animal experts, animal behaviorists, veterinarians and animal advocates, including luminaries such as farm animal welfare pioneer Dr. Temple Grandin and Dr. Joy Mench.

For a full list of American Humane Certified producers and more information about the program and other American Humane initiatives, visit

For more information about Hickman’s Family Farms, please visit

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Groups Note Free Resource to Save Lives of First Responders and K-9s Exposed to Fentanyl

The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) and American Humane want to remind first responders that in case of accidental synthetic opioid exposure to themselves or their canines in the field, expert medical advice is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the free Poison Help hotline, 1 (800) 222-1222.

Across the country, poison control centers are seeing an alarming upward trend of poison-related deaths and injuries directly linked to the use of highly potent synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. Due to this increase in usage, local law enforcement officials and first responders are increasingly coming into contact with these dangerous narcotics, causing accidental overdoses due to secondary exposure. On June 6, 2017, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency issued an updated warning on the dangers of accidental fentanyl exposure, urging law enforcement to exercise extreme caution.

“Even a very small amount of fentanyl can be deadly,” said Stephen T. Kaminski, JD, AAPCC CEO and Executive Director. “As this epidemic continues to spread across the country, it is vital that anyone who suspects he or she has been accidentally exposed to this dangerous drug contact poison control immediately by calling the national Poison Help hotline, 1 (800) 222-1222, especially if any symptoms are observed. Seeking the medical expertise of a poison center toxicology specialist could be lifesaving, and the best way for law enforcement and first responders to be prepared in the event of any poisoning emergency is to save the contact information for poison control into their smartphones simply by texting “POISON” to 797979.”

“Not only are first responders at risk of accidental overdoses from fentanyl exposure, but these drugs are also extremely lethal to police canines,” said Robin Ganzert, PhD, American Humane President and CEO. “Dogs in K9 units who are trained to find potent opioids can easily inhale or ingest small amounts of these drugs, which is all it takes to cause serious damage or death. Therefore, it’s important for law enforcement officers – human and canine – to take precautions for their safety. If you know or suspect that your canine partner may have ingested something poisonous, immediately contact the national Poison Help hotline at 1 (800) 222-1222.

For more information on the dangerous health effects of opioids, visit AAPCC’s Opioid (Narcotic) Pain Medications alerts page.

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Save a Life — Or Two — During American Humane’s “Adopt-a-Cat Month”

Each spring during “kitten season,” thousands of newborn kittens join the millions of cats already in shelters across the country. That means your local shelter has tons of cute, cuddly newborns, in addition to all the mellow, older cats and everything in between. And the shelter staff is ready to help you adopt your very first cat – or to bring home a friend for another beloved cat – just in time for American Humane’s Adopt-a-Cat Month®. This year, America’s first national humane organization is encouraging Americans everywhere to rescue a cat – or two – from a shelter or rescue group.

The popular annual campaign is part of a larger effort by American Humane to help these beautiful animals and focus on and help solve the unique challenges and issues they face. Although cats have often been referred to as America’s “Most Popular Pet,” they receive less veterinary care, have less research dedicated to their unique health/behavioral issues, are more likely to be feral, and are more likely to be euthanized in shelters than dogs. American Humane has been conducting research to identify barriers to adoption and retention, as well as other key welfare issues.

To help people do their part now, here is a “Top 10” checklist if you’re thinking of adopting:


1. If you’re thinking about adopting a cat, consider taking home two. Cats require exercise, mental stimulation and social interaction. Two cats can provide this for each other.

2. Find a cat whose personality meshes with yours. Just as we each have our own personality, so do cats. In general, cats with long hair and round heads and bodies are more easygoing than lean cats with narrow heads and short hair, who are typically more active. Adoption counselors can offer advice to help you match the individual cat’s personality with your own.

3. Pick out a veterinarian ahead of time and schedule a visit within the first few days following the adoption. You’ll want to take any medical records you received from the adoption center on your first visit. Due to their immaturity, kittens in particular should accompany you to make the appointment – even before the exam itself – so staff can pet the cat and the animal will have a positive association with the veterinarian’s office.

4. Make sure everyone in the house is prepared to have a cat before your new pet comes home. Visiting the shelter or animal control facility should be a family affair. When adopting a new cat with existing pets at home, discuss with the adoption facility how to make a proper introduction.

5. Budget for the short- and long-term costs of a cat. Understand any pet is a responsibility and there’s a cost associated with that. A cat adopted from a shelter is a bargain; many facilities will have already provided spaying or neutering, initial vaccines, and a microchip for permanent identification. Plus, shelters and rescue groups are there to offer guidance and assistance as you acclimate your new family member.

6. Stock up on supplies before the cat arrives. Be prepared so your new cat can start feeling at home right away. Your cat will need a litter box, a good-quality cat litter such as Cat’s Pride®, food and water bowls, food, scratching posts, safe and stimulating toys, a cushy bed, a brush for grooming, a toothbrush and nail clippers.

7. Cat-proof your home. A new cat will quickly teach you not to leave things lying out. Food left on the kitchen counter will serve to teach your new friend to jump on counters for a possible lunch. Get rid of loose items your cat might chew on, watch to ensure the kitten isn’t chewing on electric cords, and pick up random items like paper clips (which kittens may swallow).

8. Go slowly when introducing your cat to new friends and family. It can take several weeks for a cat to relax in a new environment. It’s a great idea to keep the new addition secluded in a single room (with a litter box, food and water, toys and the cat carrier left out and open with bedding inside) until the cat is used to the new surroundings; this is particularly important if you have other pets. If you’ve adopted a kitten, socialization is very important. But remember – take it slow.

9. Be sure to include your new pet in your family’s emergency plan. You probably have a plan in place for getting your family to safety in case of an emergency. Adjust this plan to include your pets. Add phone numbers for your veterinarian and closest 24-hour animal hospital to your “in-case-of-emergency” call list, and be sure to have a several-day supply of your pet’s food and medications on hand.

10. If you’re considering giving a cat as a gift, make sure the recipient is an active participant in the adoption process. Though well-meaning, the surprise kitty gift doesn’t allow for a “get-to know-one-another” period. Remember, adopting a cat isn’t like purchasing a household appliance or a piece of jewelry – this is a real living, breathing, and emotional being.

“American Humane has rescued innumerable cats during the past century,” said the organization’s president and CEO, Dr. Robin Ganzert. “But there are still millions more healthy, adoptable pets in shelters around the country, just waiting for someone to be their hero by rescuing them and bringing them home. American Humane’s Adopt-a-Cat Month not only encourages people to give loving homes to animals in need, but offers an opportunity to provide a wider focus on the ongoing need these beautiful animals face all year round.”

American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization, founded in 1877. For more information, please visit

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The Rising and Setting….of Pluto

By Qin Sun Stubis

Growing up in China, I remember there were always nine planets in our solar system. As a child, I was fascinated by their names: Mercury ( 水星 ) – the Water Star, Venus (金星) – the Gold Star, Earth (地球) – the Earth Ball, Mars (火星) – the Fire Star, Jupiter (木星) – the Wood Star, Saturn (土星 ) – the Dirt Star, Uranus (天王星 ) – the King of the Heavens Star, Neptune (海王星 ) – the King of the Sea Star, and Pluto (冥王星 ) – the King of the Underworld Star.

Every time I looked at the night sky, alive with all its twinkles, I envisioned Mercury as a giant swimming pool, Venus wrapped in solid gold, and Jupiter, a giant wooden ball floating in the sky … but of all the planets, Pluto got my attention the most. After all, to a child’s mind, nothing was more gruesome and exciting than a planet associated with the Underworld!

Naive questions came to me: Do all the dead fly to Pluto? Otherwise, how does the king gather up his dead subjects? I was eager to get a glimpse of this deadly dangerous planet. When I was told that it couldn’t be seen by the naked eye, I was very disappointed. At the same time, Pluto’s mystery only grew within me.

Since then, I’ve learned a lot more about Pluto: how it is a dwarf planet, the furthest one from the sun and the smallest, with only about one sixth of the mass of our moon. It is reclusive and eccentric in nature, made mostly of ice and rock, with an orbit unlike the others. It is definitely one of a kind – my kind.

I just love Pluto’s being different. Cold, dark, distant and mysterious, it is crowned with a perfect name, “King of the Underworld Star.” I adore my runt planet. And, so what if it doesn’t orbit the way others do? In my opinion, our solar system would be a bore without Pluto.

However, six decades after its discovery in 1930, many similarly sized celestial bodies have been found orbiting in the same area as Pluto, part of what is called the “Kuiper Belt.” Scientists started to question its validity as a ninth planet, its size, and orbital habit. Soon enough, its planet status was jeopardized. Many went so far as to have Pluto removed from their planetary models.

For scientists, our solar system is finally in conformity. But for people like me, the debate shall continue until we put Pluto back to where it belongs, and where it has always been.

You can always reach me at

(This column was originally published in The Santa Monica Star)

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21 Courageous Canines Competing to Be America’s Top Dog

America’s animal lovers have spoken, and after more than a third of a million votes from across the country, 21 courageous canines are advancing to the semifinal rounds of the 2017 American Humane Hero Dog Awards®, presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation and broadcast nationally on Hallmark Channel. The heroic hounds were chosen by the American public to advance to the next round from a field of 188 remarkable candidates. The public is now invited to visit between now and June 28 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 seventh annual Hero Dog Awards gala on September 16 at the Beverly Hilton, where one will be chosen as the 2017 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 general public and a special celebrity judging panel. The top dogs in each category will win $2,500 for their designated charity partner and the winning 2017 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 human-animal bond.

The seven categories for 2017 are: Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, sponsored by the K-9 Courage Program™ from Zoetis; Military Dogs, sponsored by the K-9 Courage Program from Zoetis; Therapy Dogs, sponsored by Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food, the official pet food of the 2017 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, sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, maker of NexGard® (afoxolaner) Chewables; Search and Rescue Dogs; and Guide/Hearing Dogs.

Over the past six 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 Katharine McPhee, Alison Sweeney, Bindi Irwin, Derek Hough, Michelle Beadle, Victoria Stilwell, Betty White, Whoopi Goldberg, Denise Richards, Gary Sinise, Burt Reynolds, Chelsea Handler, Martin Short, Jewel, Wilson Phillips, John Ondrasik, Carson Kressley, Miranda Lambert, Pauley Perrette, Kristen Chenoweth, Naomi Judd, Lori Loughlin, Lea Thompson, Eric Stonestreet, Fred Willard, Danica McKellar, Bailee Madison, 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 2017 American Humane Hero Dog Awards contest include:

• Second-round voting: May 17 – June 28
• Third-round voting: July 12 – August 30
• American Humane Hero Dog Awards event in Los Angeles – September 16

Meet the 21 incredible Hero Dog Awards semifinalists!

Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs category (sponsored by K-9 Courage Program™ from Zoetis)

• Quincy (Clearwater, FL) Quincy is the only Arson Dog in our county. He is a 9-year-old male and was a rescue dog out of a local shelter. Quincy has assisted all fire departments in Pinellas County and multiple surrounding counties. Being one of the few arson dogs in the state, he also gets to assist the state fire marshal’s office. Quincy has been an asset when assisting other fire departments in the county. We have been together since he was 6 months old when he was rescued from the shelter as a family pet. He amazed us with his nose at such a young age and we knew he was destined for greatness. Quincy enjoys going to schools and doing shows with all the kids. When we do programs for the kids and we set off the smoke alarm, he howls and runs to the door and the kids love that. It teaches them that when the alarm sounds they need to get out. Quincy loves to work and thinks it is a game when we go to fires. The Clearwater Fire Department supports us in every way and makes sure Quincy is well taken care of at all times.

• Cain (Lake Odessa, MI) – The mission of Spectrum Health’s Police Authority K-9 Team is not much different than that of public police departments: to serve and protect. Our dogs accomplish this in addition to helping the communities we serve, using a different approach: the health and healing approach. They help make our commitment to “improve the health of the communities we serve” not just a motto, but a reality. This is why I feel Cain exemplifies the title of Hero, and why he should be selected as the American Hero Dog. Cain is a 4-year-old German Shepherd who patrols Spectrum Health and Helen DeVos Children’s Hospitals in Grand Rapids, MI. One minute, he’s snuggled in a hospital bed with a child, eliciting a long absent smile. The next minute, he’s running to a situation in another part of the complex. I’ve seen firsthand the positive impact that Cain makes on patients, staff, and visitors as we patrol together. Many parents have cried tears of joy after Cain tenderly cheers up their child. I have seen a man who was unable to move, reach up and stroke Cain’s head, causing everyone to break down in tears during that moment. I have also witnessed tears of absolution by patients who know that Cain’s visit may be their last. Cain knows this too, and is gentle to the end. However, don’t let Cain’s soft exterior fool you. Not only is he able to deter issues before they start, he is also able to apprehend criminals and detect explosives. In the end, he is a hero every day in the eyes of those he meets.

• Ice (Olympia, WA) – In the early hours of July 21, 2016 a team of officers from the U.S. Forest Service and deputies from the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office were investigating an illegal marijuana garden on public lands within the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Two suspects attempted to flee and Ice was deployed to capture one of the suspects. As Ice was apprehending the suspect, the suspect used a large knife to stab Ice twice in the chest as well as the face and muzzle. Despite Ice’s serious wounds, Ice continued to apprehend the suspect until the suspect was taken into custody. Ice’s bravery likely saved the other officers from getting stabbed or injured. Despite his trauma, Ice didn’t let out a whine or whimper. Ice’s handler and the team immediately bandaged and dressed his wounds. As the area was extremely rugged and remote, a California Highway Patrol helicopter was dispatched. Ice’s handler and other team members then took turns carrying Ice approximately three-quarters of a mile over rough terrain and through dense vegetation to a suitable landing location. Ice was airlifted to VCA Asher Animal Hospital in Redding, CA and taken immediately into surgery where the doctors and staff were able to repair his wounds. Ice has since made a full recovery and has returned to duty. This wasn’t Ice’s first scrape, and though he is a tough-as-nails working dog, Ice also has an extraordinary ability to interact and socialize with people. Both of these amazing abilities make Ice a truly special dog and partner.

Emerging Hero Dogs category (sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, maker of NexGard® (afoxolaner) Chewables)

• MacKenzie (Hilton, NY) – MacKenzie uniquely represents an emerging hero because she provides care for baby animals with birth defects as well as educates people (of all ages). On December 31, 2013, this amazing dog named MacKenzie (Kenz for short) was born with a cleft palate. She was tube fed from when she was one day old for almost a year and survived bouts of aspiration pneumonia. I have never seen such a will to live. She was sick, but always concerned with the baby animals at the rescue. When she was almost one year old, she had life-saving cleft palate surgery. She could eat and drink on her own and focus on what she was born to do. Most of the animals that we rescue are babies that can’t stay with their mother due to their medical needs. Kenz takes an interest in each baby from day one (regardless of species or size). She plays nurse and cleans, comforts, and cuddles them. She also acts as their mom and teaches them how to socialize, play, and have good manners. Kenzie’s other important emerging hero role is to interact with children at schools so they learn to be open minded toward animals and people with physical differences. They learn kindness, patience, and that you can make a difference in the world no matter how small you are. Kenz also spreads awareness about animals with disabilities to people of all ages at different animal events. In the past, the trend was to euthanize animals born with a disability. She’s working on changing that! MacKenzie is a true hero, a fighter from birth with a mission to love and teach.

• Josh (Sun Valley, CA) – Josh was born with a cleft palate and taken into the shelter to be euthanized at birth. He lay at the shelter, hungry and cold with his umbilical cord still attached. Two well-known rescue groups, Paw Works and Leave No Paws Behind, joined paws to save him. The call came in to me, asking if I would take him. I said yes. He arrived cold and stiff. I worked on him around the clock. After 48 hours, he started to fight and thrive. I started his own Facebook page for him, and he quickly became an internet sensation, proving to the world that birth defects don’t need to be a death sentence. Josh and I ended up landing the cover of Modern Dog magazine. It was then that I knew he had a purpose. He inspired me to start a non-profit, naming it Josh & His Critters. Josh is three years old, and in just one year, he has raised over $100,000 to save the worst of the worst-off on death row, including animals with birth defects, terminal animals, and animals in critical need of emergency care, etc. Josh also saves cats, rats, turtles, birds, gophers, pigs, lambs, goats, and rabbits and we find them loving homes. Josh will save anything with a heartbeat. Josh continues to rehabilitate all creatures great and small. Josh’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. He’s made it into the local paper, and been in the news twice for his ongoing efforts here in Los Angeles, CA. Josh will continue to educate the world that all animals deserve a second chance at life, no matter how young, how old, sick, or injured they are.

• Abigail (Lehigh Acres, FL) – Abigail is a gal that did not ask for the life she was forced to live. Abigail and her bonnets have changed the world. Abigail is a HERO because of the lesson she teaches about forgiveness and dog fighting. Abigail and her Bonnets have brought awareness to the importance of ending dog fighting. A 1-year-old pit mix, she was found as a stray in Miami FL. Brockton drove to Miami to bring her to LIFE Rescue. Upon her arrival and after further examinations we suspected she suffered from a life of dog fighting. She was anemic, she was infested with ticks, and scars covered her bloody head, neck, back legs, and half her face was missing. She smelled so bad because of infections, and was covered in dried mud. One side of her face was missing and her skin had been ripped off right down to the ear drum. Abigail had only spent a day at the shelter before she was brought to the rescue’s vet clinic. Her injuries were at least a week old and she almost lost her life. Abigail had weeks of hospitalization and daily bandage changes. How would she live a normal life? Would she need rehab? She had several major surgeries with extensive skin grafts. Day Two of her journey is when her “mission” began.TJ, her vet and her vet tech Destiny were changing her bandages. The way they held the gauze looked like a bow. Since then we called her bandages “her bonnets.” People started sending bonnets from all over the world. Abigail is on Facebook at “Bonnets for Abigail” with over 12,000 followers who love her. Abigail didn’t need therapy. Abigail is the therapy. She loves people and dogs. She has a mission to continue to teach forgiveness and end dog fighting.

Guide/Hearing Dogs category

• Pierce (Palm Bay, FL) – I’ve used a cane for the past 25 years, and when I first took hold of the harness of my new Fidelco guide dog, I felt free.”
– Don O., Fidelco client

While serving with the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division during the first Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm), Don sustained an injury that eventually claimed his vision. In the more than two decades that followed, Don navigated through life with his white cane, along with the support of his wife, Peggy, and two children. As an experienced cane traveler who moved about the world quite well, Don had not seriously considered getting a guide dog until one day he now remembers as a turning point in his journey. Last year, on a family vacation, Don and his son, Jordan, set out to explore historical monuments together. At the conclusion of the trip, Don asked Jordan to describe his favorite part of the tour to which the twelve-year-old responded, “Dad, I wasn’t paying much attention…I wanted to make sure you didn’t fall.” Heartbroken at this admission, Don knew Jordan needed the freedom to be a kid and not a sighted guide. And the payoff in having his guide dog, “Pierce,” has been even greater than relieving this burden from his son; Don is experiencing life with refreshed independence and freedom. His wife, Peggy, shares, “I have seen a new confidence in Don and I can’t thank Fidelco enough for their part in it. Don’s guide dog is a very loving companion and dedicated to his work. We have all fallen in love.”

• Kannon (Madison, WI) – Kannon & I are an unforgettable duo. Her sophisticated Japanese name reflects the true meaning of the treasure she offers. It means observing for others, the sounds and cries of the world.
She empowers me with confidence, independence and courage; opening doors of opportunity to survive and thrive in the sighted world. With her I can step out of my comfort zone and try new things. Together we stand up for compassion, diversity, justice, inclusion, solidarity, unity & peace. She is: An adventurer, brave, communicator, devoted, exuberant, friend, guide, hero, intelligently disobedient, joyous, kiss-giver, loyal, mentor, navigator, obedient, protective, queenly, reliable, smart, trustworthy, unconditionally loving, volunteer, watchful, xenial, young-at-heart, zippy. As Lions, we are called to serve one another in our community. To commemorate our centennial year, we: Rang Salvation Army bells; Sold dinner tickets & rolled Pfeffernusse cookies at Good Shepherd Parish; Encouraged ETF colleagues to take action on their health and well-being; Tutored students in literacy at Lincoln Elementary School; Walked in the Crazy Legs Classic, Puppy Up, Spartan Stampede and national Kidney Foundation runs; Promoted preserving sight/preventing blindness by influencing individuals to get dilated eye exams and to give the gift of sight/life by becoming an eye, organ & tissue donor at Madison Mallards Games; and more to come in the future. Pieced together, we make a difference in the jigsaw puzzle of humanity.

• Swifty (Cape Coral, FL) – I am nominating my retired Guide Dog, Swifty, with whom I worked together as a team for eight memorable years. Swifty was my first Guide Dog and when I received him I did not know the future we would have together. Besides the amazing guide work he provided me for our time together he also gave me confidence, motivation, and a bond unlike any other. Swifty was and still is a special dog and met his job duties above and beyond any other guide dog I knew and know today. Swifty is my hero, not only for guiding me and keeping me safe, but for saving me from a life of loneliness and depression. He gave me the ability to be independent, to get out in the world and be a part of society. He would happily put that harness on and take me anywhere. Even though he is now retired he is currently working as a mentor for my new guide dog, Bug. Swifty has accepted Bug into his home and spends many hours with her sharing his secrets and helping her keep me safe and remain independent. I have had Bug for about nine months now and these two dogs are inseparable and a true gift from god. Swifty deserves to be a Hero Dog because of his dedication to me and now dedication to Bug.

Military Dogs category (sponsored by K-9 Courage Program™ from Zoetis)

• Adak (St. Cloud, MN) – Adak is a 13-year-old German Shepherd. His longevity and accomplishments as an explosive detection dog are unmatched. During his career he has provided support to dignitaries, celebrities and events across more than 10 states and three countries. He was a Contract Working Dog (CWD) for the U.S. State Department (DoS) in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Army, Ft. McCoy and for a private business, Dogs for Defense Inc. (D4D). Adak’s first assignment was in Iraq in 2006. Adak was assigned to support the U.S. embassy and dignitaries. Adak performed a sweep of the Baghdad Central Station prior to the arrival of a dignitary. While performing the sweep Adak alerted to a vehicle in the area, canceling the event. On January 14, 2008, the Kabul Serena Hotel was subjected to a complex terror attack. During the attack numerous guests were trapped in the hotel. Adak’s was the first K-9 team to arrive, with terrorists still inside the hotel. Adak led a team of Americans who went room to room inside while terrorists were still active. Adak came across dismembered, deceased victims during his search and performed flawlessly. Over 20 people were evacuated, a total of six people died, including one American. In 2009 Adak was conducting a sweep of the Ministry of Agriculture when he had an alert. The Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit arrived and identified the threat as a mortar shell. Working for D4D gave Adak constant opportunities to do unique detection work across the U.S. until he was 13. His transition from war to family member was incredible.

• Coffee (Waynesville, MO) – My name is Coffee and from the age of two until just before my twelfth birthday I trained and served in the United States Army as a Specialized Search Dog. In April of 2006, I was paired with my one and only partner with whom I would spend the next 10 years traveling wherever we were needed. I started my military service at Lackland Airforce Base where both my partner and I learned to become a team and understand our responsibilities to one another. My first duty station was Fort Eustis, Virginia, where we worked rigorously to prepare for our first trip to Afghanistan in 2007. That deployment to Afghanistan taught me that my role was bigger than just finding bombs. Every night after working I would just sit around with all the soldiers and let them pet me and play fetch. I wasn’t only their guardian but I was also their friend and a reminder for many of home. Both my partner and I spent two more tours in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011 and 2013 to 2014. I never forgot the role I played beyond finding explosives and watching out for the soldiers who I unselfishly chose to protect. No matter how long a mission was or how tired I may have been I always found time to enjoy play time with those who needed it. While I have had the privilege of supporting countless secret service missions, sweeps for numerous VIP’s, and executing frequent law enforcement call outs, the time spent with my partner and the soldiers will always be my fondest memories

• Suma L469 (Houston, TX) – Hi, my name is Suma L469. I retired from the U.S Air Force on October 17, 2014 after nine faithful years of service. I worked hard as dual-purpose Patrol Explosive Detection Dog. I dedicated my first five years overseas, mostly in Afghanistan, protecting base camps and going outside the wire to look for improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. I was responsible for saving for between 150-200 military and civilian lives during my career as a warrior with paws. My last four years I spent at Lackland Air Force Base training the younger dogs for their careers in the military. I served my country and I only asked to be showed love and kindness. In return, I would lay down my life for yours!

Search and Rescue Dogs category

• Luca (Grand Prairie, TX) – On March 15, 2016, Fort Worth Police were dispatched to a missing endangered male. Two elderly men visited a large salvage yard when one suddenly realized that his elderly friend with Alzheimer’s was missing. After a brief search, he realized he needed help and called police. Many officers responded due to the age/medical condition of the missing man. After an extensive search, Sgt. Medrano asked Officer Brock if Luca would be of any help. Luca is Officer Brock’s retired Search-and-Rescue (SAR) German Shepherd, who was 10 years old at the time of this call. Luca excelled in area, water, avalanche and forest/desert searches. Officer Brock believed Luca excelled in this and it meant a helicopter ride, which Luca loved. Officer Brock picked Luca up from his home and Luca fell back into his training and used his SAR skills to search for the missing man. Luca alerted at an opening of brush at the Trinity River, which led to a very steep hill followed by a steep dropoff. Due to terrain, a PD helicopter responded and immediately observed the lost man in the river, stuck in waist-high mud on the opposite bank of the river where Luca alerted. Officers shed their gear, swam across the river, rescued the man and brought him to safety. Had Luca not tracked the man’s trail and located him, the man would have drowned in the river, which still had very cold, high, fast-paced water or succumbed to the temperature. Luca’s love and dedication to SAR shows the resilience of older dogs and how training doesn’t go away just because they retire.

• Abby (Jamestown, RI) – Abby is an 11-year-old bloodhound trained to find missing humans and pets. Through her career she’s reunited over 100 pets alive and well and given closure to four families. There are two rescues that stand out among the many Abby has been on. One was with Ivy, a missing cat, who was owned by a 91-year-old gentleman who was devastated that Ivy was missing. Since Ivy went missing the man was losing weight, which concerned his doctors, friends and family. There was an urgent need to reunite the two. Abby did just that. Abby never gave up searching for three months! Abby keeps in touch with Ivy and her human friend (95 now). The other case was Bruschi, who was lost during back-to-back snow storms, while his owners were stuck at the airport. Abby and her team found Bruschi a white Lab, laying down, with his fur frozen to the ground. Bruschi was dying, slowly freezing to death. Abby and the team had to break him from the ground to save him. He could not walk so they carried him to the waiting truck and slowly warmed him. A call was made to his owners, still stuck at airport, to say he was home safe, which made them cry in happiness!

• Piglet (Lancaster, CA) – “Piglet” is a 6-year-old Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog. Rigorously trained and certified to find human remains on land and in water, Piglet and handler Lori Wells, are dedicated volunteers serving many communities. They’re frequently called to assist local law enforcement in their search for the missing. Lori and Piglet commit hundreds of hours annually to training and testing. This ensures they’re always ready when called to search. Piglet has built a reputation with law enforcement throughout California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah, not only for her unswerving work ethic and talented nose, but also for her infectious “smile.” She makes friends at PR events and fundraisers. Everyone wants to “Kiss the Pig.” But it’s out in the field where she’s most effective, an unparalleled search resource and comfort to the families she’s helping. An example was on a mission where she deployed in a remote wilderness area to find a missing father and husband. After long hours in the field, Piglet found the subject who, sadly, was deceased. Though this is not the outcome wished for on any search, Piglet’s diligence and tenacity in making the find allowed the wife and nine children the answers needed to move forward. She did the same on a lake. Piglet was called and we deployed on day eight of the search and located the subject. Like her smile, Piglet doesn’t fade or give up!

Service Dogs category (sponsored by Modern Dog)

• Atlas the Wonder Dog (Dayton, OH) – After coming home from Iraq, struggling with PTSD and dealing with the effects of a TBI from a roadside bomb, I was virtually lost, locked in my own personal prison. I began getting treatment while still Active Duty, which consisted of talk therapy and a single prescription. After getting out of the Marines, I continued treatment with the VA system, and nearly a decade later, the “treatment” consisted of more than eight different prescriptions totaling more than 33 pills a day.…my life felt very sad, hazy, and hopeless……I was lost. Until I found Atlas. Atlas is not only my service dog but my lifesaver. Atlas is a grounding and solid presence when flashbacks, hypervigilance, and the lingering effects of war begin again to creep up my spine. Atlas has been trained to sense these changes in me and then acts to redirect my attention and focus during these overwhelming instances. Whether it is to nudge my hand if I am getting anxious, wake me up in the throes of a nightmare or just stand behind me so I know someone has my back. With his presence, I am able to take an active, positive role in my children’s lives. Atlas has not only completely changed my life, but as the “face” of, and inspiration behind the creation of The Battle Buddy Foundation, he is also a beacon of hope for so many others struggling to cope. A regal reminder that there is hope, that there IS a way to find yourself again after combat and trauma, and that your pains and struggles have value.

• Roxy Tucker (Waynesville, NC) – My name is Justin. I am 30 years old and I am an Iraq war veteran with PTSD. I use Roxy for a PTSD therapy dog. I’ve had Roxy since she’s been 11 weeks old and now she’s three. Roxy is truly a life saver. Without her I am sure I’d be dead. She’s saved me from a few scary PTSD moments in life that could have been fatal. She is a very loving and caring soul with lots of joy to spread. that’s why I wanted to submit my entry. God bless all our troops and our veterans!

• Earle (Danvers, MA) – Earle is my link to independence. He does the typical tasks of a Service Dog, including fetching dropped items, opening doors and calling elevators. Earle travels with me internationally, flying in the cabin with me and helping me to negotiate new environments while educating the public about the role of service dogs and the importance of public access. In addition to the tasks that Earle performs, he also goes to work with me. As a staff member on a memory care unit, Earle not only allows me to do my job, but he assists our residents in many ways. Earle is a friendly, comforting presence when our residents are lonely or confused. He encourages his friends to leave their apartments and socialize with him, and their neighbors. Earle has dried many tears, comforted his elderly friends during loss or illness, and provided endless opportunity for laughter, fun and play. Everyone agrees that Earle is their best pal and makes waking up to face the day worthwhile. He is a special dog with a special heart, and shares his love worldwide.

Therapy Dogs category (sponsored by Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food)

• JJ (Albany, OR) – JJ is a six-and-a-half-year-old golden retriever female who has been a therapy dog from the tender age of one. She is prone to sassiness and constantly in search of bacon, while often confused with a male Irish Setter of unknown origin. JJ serves as the primary therapy dog for our inpatient hospice facility, where I am a hospice nurse. She works three 12-hour shifts each week, providing comfort to patients, families, staff and volunteers, passing out hugs along the way. During her off time, JJ also is a HOPE Crisis Response canine, responding with me to national and local crises while offering support and comfort. JJ also serves as a virtual therapy dog, helping others through her stories and antics. We balance heart-wrenching stories with more lighthearted moments to educate and support not only families we have served in hospice, but the public. End of life is a very difficult topic for people and we’ve found stories including animals can be a non-threatening bridge to the conversation that everyone will eventually need to face. In an unexpected turn, patients and families now are relating to JJ in a different way. This last December, she was diagnosed with lymphoma. She is currently in clinical remission after starting chemotherapy. The staff at the veterinary teaching hospital continue to be charmed by her hugs and love while she receives her treatment, including a radiology tech whose mother we cared for at hospice. Once a therapy dog, always a therapy dog.

• Norbert (Los Angeles, CA) – Norbert, my three-and-a-half pound registered therapy dog, has a simple gift. He makes people smile. Not just a few people, but over a million people around the world. As I discovered when I adopted this tiny mixed breed dog eight years ago, though small, he has a huge heart. Through his work in hospitals, nursing homes, on social media, television, and in publications, Norbert has become a global symbol of goodness of spirit, care, and compassion. Norbert embodies the idea that you don’t have to be big to make a big difference in the world. His kind of hero brings out the best in others despite their hardships, challenges or differences. I know because he receives thousands of email and social media messages every week from all kinds of people. Here are some other ways Norbert has made a difference in the world: By donating over 4,000 ‘Norbert Plush Toys’ to children in need, advocating for the work of therapy dogs everywhere, donating hundreds of copies of his picture books to spread their positive messages, raising money for homeless animals, visiting schools and special needs programs, and by selflessly giving his time and energy. Norbert’s current primary place of volunteer is at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The world has embraced and taken to heart this little dog’s giving nature. Norbert makes it cool to be kind. His love and acceptance of all is exactly the kind of therapy that is needed in our world today. High-Five Norbert!

• Aladdin (Haddonfield, NJ) – Aladdin was found severely emaciated in 2013. Both of his back legs and tail had been broken. He was missing 12 teeth and had open wounds. I foster emaciated dogs and he came to me. From the moment I met him, his little tail never stopped wagging, despite his horrific condition. Aladdin had a rough recovery but he overcame the obstacles put before him. He greeted every person with a lot of hope and despite the abuse he suffered he trusted enough to learn that no one would hurt him again. Within the year he was a certified therapy dog bringing love to everyone he meets. Aladdin is a Ronald McDonald House Ambassador dog, his favorite duty! He visits schools doing a humane education, anti-bullying program. He is a trained crisis response dog and spent a week in Orlando last year after the shooting doing therapy visits and fundraising for the Victims Fund. He works with the Philadelphia Police fundraising for the Fallen Officers Fund and attending the events they do with special needs children. He is an ambassador dog for Tito’s Vodka for Dog People Campaign and together they have raised over 300,000 for rescues and shelters all over. He also works with veterans and PACT for Animals. Most importantly he is a model/ambassador for Show Your Soft Side, a nationwide animal abuse campaign and he is the spokesdog for the rescue I work with, Lilo’s Promise. Lilo’s takes in medical needs dogs like Aladdin. Heroes come in all shapes & sizes, Aladdin has taught me that each time I watch him work.
For more information about the 2017 American Humane Hero Dog Awards®, and to vote daily in the contest, please visit For more information on sponsorship opportunities email Mari Harner at or call 1-800-227-4645.

About American Humane
American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization, founded in 1877. For more information, please visit To inquire about Hero Dog Awards sponsorship opportunities, please email Mari Harner at

About Lois Pope, The Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., and LIFE (Leaders in Furthering Education)
As one of America’s leading philanthropists, Lois Pope has positively impacted the lives of individuals at the local, national and international levels. She has established three separate organizations dedicated to helping those in need. These organizations are the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., Leaders In Furthering Education (LIFE), and the Disabled Veterans’ Life Memorial Foundation. For more than 20 years she has been the driving force behind the Lois Pope LIFE Center at the University of Miami School of Medicine, The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, and a groundbreaking new program with American Humane in Palm Beach County. Lois Pope has recently donated two Lois Pope Red Star Rescue Vehicles. Each rescue vehicle is a 50-foot long response unit, complete with a Ford F-350 truck and trailer, which is specifically designed and outfitted to provide an array of animal emergency services and cruelty responses within the region.

Mrs. Pope recently saw the completion of a decade’s long dream – the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, which was dedicated by President Obama in Washington, DC on Sunday, October 5, 2014. The Memorial will forever stand as a reminder to the public and legislators of the courage and sacrifices of the four million living disabled veterans and all those who died before them for the need to be vigilant in assuring their support, as well as being aware of the human cost of war.

A mother and a grandmother, Lois has trained for and completed five New York City Marathons.

About Hallmark Channel
Hallmark Channel is Crown Media Family Networks’ flagship 24-hour cable television network, distributed nationwide in high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) to 89 million homes. As the country’s leading destination for quality family entertainment, Hallmark Channel delivers on the 100-year legacy of the Hallmark brand. In addition to its signature new, original movies, the network features an ambitious lineup of other new, original content, including scripted primetime series, such as “Good Witch,” “When Calls the Heart” and “Chesapeake Shores”; annual specials including “Kitten Bowl” and “Hero Dog Awards”; and a daily, two-hour lifestyle show, “Home & Family.” Additionally, Hallmark Channel is the exclusive home to world premiere presentations of the acclaimed Hallmark Hall of Fame franchise. Dedicated to helping viewers celebrate life’s special moments, Hallmark Channel also offers annual holiday programming franchises, including “Countdown to Christmas,” “Countdown to Valentine’s Day,” “Summer Nights,” “Fall Harvest” and “Winterfest.” Rounding out the network’s diverse slate are some of television’s most beloved comedies and series, including “The Golden Girls,” “The Middle,” “Last Man Standing,” and “Frasier.”

Hallmark Cards, Inc. owns and operates Crown Media Family Networks.

For more information, please visit
Hallmark Channel on Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube

About Zoetis
Zoetis is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 60 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products, genetic tests, biodevices and a range of services. Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in more than 100 countries. In 2016, the company generated annual revenue of $4.9 billion with approximately 9,000 employees. For more information, visit

About Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health
As the second largest animal health business in the world, Boehringer Ingelheim is committed to improving animal health. With more than 10,000 employees worldwide, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health has products available in more than 150 markets and a global presence in 99 countries. For more information about Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, click here.

Boehringer Ingelheim
Innovative medicines for people and animals have for more than 130 years been what the research-driven pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim stands for. Boehringer Ingelheim is one of the industry’s top 20 pharmaceutical companies and to this day remains family-owned. Day by day, some 50,000 employees create value through innovation for the three business areas human pharmaceuticals, animal health and biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing. In 2016, Boehringer Ingelheim achieved net sales of around 15.9 billion euros. With more than three billion euros, R&D expenditure corresponds to 19.6 per cent of net sales. Social responsibility comes naturally to Boehringer Ingelheim. That is why the company is involved in social projects, such as the “Making More Health” initiative. Boehringer Ingelheim also actively promotes workforce diversity and benefits from its employees’ different experiences and skills. Furthermore, the focus is on environmental protection and sustainability in everything the company does. More information about Boehringer Ingelheim can be found on or in our annual report:

About Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food
Chicken Soup for the Soul understands the unique relationship between people and pets. Health conscious consumers have been feeding their cats and dogs Chicken Soup for the Soul wholesome and balanced, super premium pet food for over a decade. Holistic in nature, the entire line of products is made from only the finest ingredients: real meats (chicken, turkey, duck and salmon), fruits, vegetables and herbs. With no added corn, wheat, soy, artificial coloring, flavoring or preservatives, Chicken Soup for the Soul pet food is inspired by your love for pets, and promotes overall health and well-being for dogs and cats. The products are proudly made in the USA, and feature rescued shelter pets on every bag. Core and grain-free formulas are available in independent pet specialty stores nationwide and online, with a new line of treats recently launched.

A portion of all proceeds from the sale of Chicken Soup for the Soul pet food goes to help shelters and pets in need through Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Fill a Bowl … Feed a Soul™ program. The program which was launched in association with the American Humane aims to provide a million meals to shelter pets in 2017.

About Modern Dog magazine
Modern Dog — “the best dog magazine ever” and the #1 dog publication in North America — is a must-read for dog lovers. Your source for the best ideas and solutions for life with dogs, Modern Dog features training tips, insight into your dog’s behavior, the best gear, wellness, rescue, DIY how-tos, contests and more! A large part of Modern Dog’s mission is to support rescue and the organizations that work tirelessly to help dogs in need. Find Modern Dog online — — on newsstands across North America, and on all major social platforms. Modern Dog, your guide to a better bond with your dog!

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Honoring America’s Top Dogs

Dogs have long been called Mankind’s best friends, and on May 8 it was apparent why, as American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, honored some of America’s bravest, and often most under-recognized canine friends at the May 8 New York City kickoff of its annual Hero Dog Awards campaign. This annual national effort seeks out and recognizes the most heroic hounds from across the country.

American Humane and philanthropist Lois Pope, who serves as the presenting sponsor for the Hero Dog Awards, were joined by a galaxy of nearly 150 animal-loving VIPs and entertainment stars to thank and pay tribute to America’s most courageous canines at the National Arts Club in Manhattan.

American Humane President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert introduced two of the past Hero Dog Awards winners, including 2016 Therapy Dog of the Year Mango, a paralyzed rescue who, with the help of a tiny wheelchair, helps inspire disabled veterans with physical disabilities, and 2012 Therapy Dog of the Year Stella, who brings hope to patients with developmental disabilities and critical illnesses. She then introduced Military Dog Cena, who saved the life of her handler, USMC Corporal Jeff DeYoung (Ret.), sharing with guests American Humane’s work with the U.S. military, reuniting battle buddies like Corporal DeYoung and Cena, and rescuing and training shelter dogs to become service animals for veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress – efforts supported through the generous support of Crown Media Family Networks.

Philanthropist Lois Pope said, “It would be impossible to count all of the ways that dogs make our lives safer, happier, and healthier. We should never forget that some of America’s bravest heroes come on four legs and we need to pay tribute to their remarkable work and achievements.”

Legendary country star and national ambassador for American Humane Naomi Judd reminded the audience that even heroes sometimes need heroes to rescue them, and urged the crowd to support the work of the American Humane Rescue program, which for 100 years has saved and sheltered animals in wars, natural disasters and cruelty cases.

Among the many guests, supporters, animal advocates and philanthropists were notables Jean Shafiroff, Amanda Bowman, Ronnie Perl, Natalie Pray, Abigail Trenk, and Sharon Bush. Entertainment was provided by Alex Donner & the Alex Donner Orchestra, and singing sensation Franco Corso.

In a touching moment, American Humane CEO Dr. Ganzert made hero dog Mango and her owner Judy Walter national ambassadors for the organization, and then thanked all those present for their support.

“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. Ganzert. “I want to thank all those who serve as our hero dogs’ best friends: Lois Pope, who has been the presenting sponsor of the Hero Dog Awards for seven years, the host committee, our board members, our national ambassadors, illustrious guests, and Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food, for generously underwriting this event. Thank you all!”

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