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Meet America's Top Dogs! Eight Furry Finalists Chosen For American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards

Public invited to vote daily for their favorite; winner to be announced at the fourth annual Hero Dog Awards at The Beverly Hilton, airing on Hallmark Channel this fall (July 07, 2014)

WASHINGTON, July 7, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- America has spoken and after more than one million votes cast by the public and a celebrity panel of dog lovers and experts, eight courageous canines have been chosen as the nation's top dogs in their individual categories for the 2014 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards. Voting now opens for the final round that will determine which heroic hound will be named this year's American Hero Dog at the fourth annual Hero Dog Awards, broadcast on Hallmark Channel this fall. The public is invited to submit one vote per day through September 15 at www.herodogawards.org.

Presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards seek to identify and recognize America's Hero Dogs ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things, whether it's saving lives, lending sight or hearing to those in need, or just welcoming us home at the end of a hard day.

Each of the eight finalists and their handlers will be flown to Hollywood to take part in the Hero Dog Awards gala at The Beverly Hilton hotel on Saturday, September 27, to be broadcast on Hallmark Channel in the fall. There they will walk the red carpet, conduct VIP interviews, and attend the star-studded awards show and black-tie gala where the winning 2014 American Hero Dog will be chosen.


Meet the Eight Finalists!

Arson Dogs category (sponsored by State Farm)
Kai (San Antonio, TX) The San Antonio Fire Department's six-year-old black Lab was rescued from a shelter and given a second chance. Now she helps keep others safe by investigating arson cases. In her four-year career she has taken part in more than 200 investigations and helps educate children on fire safety. (Charity Partner: Project Paws Alive)

Emerging Hero Dogs category (sponsored by Trupanion)
Xena (Johns Creek, GA) This pit bull was knocking on death's door when she was brought into a Georgia shelter outside Atlanta. Emaciated and dehydrated, she was given just a one percent chance at survival. Unbelievably, she defied the odds, made a full recovery and was adopted by a family with a little boy with autism. Before, the child had closed himself off to the world, but the arrival of Xena sparked something in the child, and now he went from once silent to constantly singing to and chatting with Xena the Warrior Puppy (Charity Partner: Sheltie Rescue of Utah).

Guide/Hearing Dogs category (sponsored by Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food)
XXon (Bloomfield, CT) In January 2010, an explosion in Kandahar, Afghanistan left Air Force Sergeant Michael Malarsie blind and killed four of his fellow servicemen, including his best friend. Though he lost his sight, Sgt. Malarsie was soon partnered with XXon, and they became the only active duty guide dog team in the Air Force. Now retired, Sgt. Malarsie continues to work with XXon every day as the dog helps get him safely to wherever he needs to be. (Charity Partner: Fidelco).

Law Enforcement Dogs category
Kota (Winchester, VA) A member of the Winchester, Virginia police force, this dog was injured by an eight-foot fall while responding to a burglary in progress. Undeterred, he helped his fellow officers finish the call, fighting with a severely fractured limb to ensure their safety. (Charity Partner: K9s4COPs)

Military Dogs category
Chaney (Waverly, IA) -- This eight-year-old lab retired from the Marines in 2013 after multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as an IED detection dog. While deployed, Chaney not only saved countless lives by locating IEDs, he also served as a great morale booster for everyone in his squad. Since retiring, Chaney was adopted by one of his handlers and they now spend many hours volunteering around the Midwest for a nonprofit organization called Retrieving Freedom, Inc., which trains service dogs for disabled veterans and children with autism. (Charity Partner: America's VetDogs)

Search and Rescue Dogs category
Bretagne (Cypress, TX) Over her long career, Bretagne has made a significant contribution to the search and rescue community through her many deployments including the World Trade Center after 9/11, the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, and Hurricane Rita in 2005. She now continues as an ambassador for search and rescue dogs as she visits elementary schools where she helps first graders learn to read. (Charity Partner: Penn Vet Working Dog Center)

Service Dogs category (sponsored by Modern Dog)
JJ Krawczyk (Apex, NC) Once a shelter dog, this small hero was rescued, trained, and partnered with a young girl suffering from a rare condition known as Mastocytosis, which can cause severe reactions for her. This dog with the gifted nose can detect when reactions are about to occur, alerting the girl's parents that her life might be in danger. When she needed surgery recently, doctors requested the dog be present in the operating room to help keep the girl alive. (Charity Partner: Eyes Ears Nose & Paws)

Therapy Dogs category (sponsored by Zoetis)
Susie (High Point, NC) A puppy that was set on fire and a woman who suffered a brutal dog attack became a dedicated team that eventually changed North Carolina animal-cruelty laws. Susie the Pit Bull mix began life with terror and pain when she was beaten, burned, and abandoned. Susie and her owner both triumphed over pain and fear to become voices for abused animals who have no voice. They visit hospitals, schools, and nursing homes to inspire people never to give up. (Charity: Paws & Effect)

"This year's slate of hero dogs represents the best of our 'best friends,'" said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association. "Their remarkable stories of valor deserve recognition at the highest level and we are privileged to honor their accomplishments once a year in this national forum."

"Each and every one of these courageous canines is a winner," said philanthropist and presenting sponsor of the Hero Dog Awards Lois Pope. "It will be my honor to shake each dog's paw at the gala event in Hollywood this fall."

All eight finalists will win $1,500 for their chosen charity selected from the contest's list of 15 charity partners. The top winner will win an additional $5,000 for their charity partner.

In addition to the wonderful category sponsors, American Humane Association would also like to thank Zoetis for being the Official Online Sponsor of the 2014 Hero Dog Awards, Trupanion as the Official Pet Medical Insurance of the 2014 Hero Dog Awards,The Beverly Hilton Hotel for sponsoring the awards gala, our Best Producer Sponsor Merial, and Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food as the Official Pet Food of the 2014 Hero Dog Awards.

Dog lovers can see the photos and stories of all eight finalists and vote for their favorite once a day atwww.herodogawards.org.

The American public is also encouraged to visit www.herovetawards.org every day until July 21 to vote for America's Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician, who will both be honored on stage at the 2014 Hero Dog Awards.

About American Humane Association
American Humane Association is the country's first national humane organization and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Since 1877, American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting our most vulnerable from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Today we're also leading the way in understanding the human-animal bond and its role in therapy, medicine and society. American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. You can help make a difference, too. Visit American Humane Association at www.americanhumane.org today.

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 different 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. Over the last 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, a summer camp program serving thousands of underprivileged children and a groundbreaking new program with American Humane Association in Palm Beach County. Lois Pope has recently donated two Lois Pope Red Star 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 emergency services within the region. To learn more visit www.life-edu.org or call 561.582.8083.

About Hallmark Channel
Hallmark Channel, owned and operated by Crown Media Holdings, Inc., is a 24-hour basic cable network that provides a diverse slate of high-quality entertainment programming available in high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) to a national audience of 86 million subscribers. Hallmark Channel is the nation's leading destination for quality family programming with an ambitious slate of TV movies; original scripted series, including Cedar Cove, When Calls the Heart, and Signed, Sealed, Delivered; specials such as Kitten Bowl; as well as some of television's most beloved sitcoms and series, including The Golden Girls, The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, and Frasier. The channel is also home to Daytime Emmy-nominated lifestyle program, Home & Family, a daily two-hour live show shot in a fully functional house located on the Universal Studios lot. Hallmark Channel's sibling network, Hallmark Movie Channel, available in HD and SD, focuses on family-friendly movies with a mix of original films, classic theatrical releases, and presentations from the acclaimed Hallmark Hall of Fame library.

For more information, please visit www.crownmediapress.com

Hallmark Channel on Social Media: Facebook, Twitter (Join the conversation at #HeartofTV), Pinterest, GetGlue, YouTube

About Zoetis
Zoetis (z-EH-tis) 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 and genetic tests and supported by a range of services. In 2013, the company generated annual revenues of $4.6 billion. With approximately 9,800 employees worldwide at the beginning of 2014, Zoetis has a local presence in approximately 70 countries, including 28 manufacturing facilities in 11 countries. Its products serve veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farmand companion animals in 120 countries. For more information, visit https://www.zoetisus.com.

Zoetis is the proud sponsor, with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, of the mobile educational exhibit Animal Connections: Our Journey Together. Families visiting the exhibit will explore the vast bonds between people and animals and learn about the important role veterinarians play in protecting animal and human health. For more information, visit http://www.zoetis.com/animal-connections-tour.

About State Farm
State Farm and its affiliates are the largest providers of car insurance in the U.S. and is a leading insurer in Canada. In addition to providing auto insurance quotes, their 18,000 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve 81 million policies and accounts more than 79 million auto, home, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is also available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 44 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit www.statefarm.com or in Canada www.statefarm.ca.

About Trupanion
Trupanion is an industry leader in medical insurance for cats and dogs inthe United States, Canada, andPuerto Ricowith the mission to help the pets we all love receive the best veterinary care possible. Trupanion offers a simple, fair and comprehensive pet medical insurance policy that pays 90% of veterinary costs for covered accident and illness claims that could include diagnostic tests, surgeries, medications, hospital stays, and alternative therapies for the treatment of injuries or illnesses. Trupanion's policy includes coverage of chronic, hereditary and congenital conditions with no payout limits per incident, per year, or over the lifetime of the pet. Some terms and conditions apply, please see our policy for details atTrupanion.com. Inthe United States, Trupanion is underwritten by the American Pet Insurance Company, which has earned a Financial Stability Rating of A--Exceptional from Demotech, Inc. InCanada, Trupanion is underwritten by Omega General Insurance Company. Trupanion is a founding member of the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), demonstrating a commitment to high standards and transparency in all actions and products. For more information call 888.733.2685 or visitTrupanion.com. You can also follow Trupanion onTwitterorFacebook.

About Merial
Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs approximately 6,000 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Merial is a Sanofi company. For more information, please see www.merial.com.

About Chicken Soup for the Soul
Chicken Soup for the Soul publishes the famous Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. In 2007, USA Today named Chicken Soup for the Soul one of the five most memorable books in the last quarter-century. With over 100 million books sold to date in the U.S. and Canada alone, more than 250 titles, and translations into more than 40 languages, "chicken soup for the soul" is one of the world's best-known phrases and is regularly referenced in pop culture. Today, 20 years after it first began sharing happiness, inspiration and wellness through its books, Chicken Soup for the Soul continues to delight readers and fans with new titles, but has also evolved beyond the bookstore. Its high quality products include wholesome and balanced pet food that recognizes the unique relationship between pets and people, a line of delicious, nutritious food, that makes it easier to bring people together around the table for healthy meals, as well as movies, television, licensed gifts, and a host of digital offerings, all of which are inspired by stories.Chicken Soup for the Soul is "changing the world one story at a time". For more information visitwww.chickensoup.com.

About Modern Dog magazine
Modern Dog magazine is a must-read for dog lovers! Get inspired with the best ideas and solutions for life with dogs. Each issue features cool finds, design, insight into your dog's behaviour, best buys, wellness, rescue, training, fun DIY how-to's, contests and more! Modern Dog is your guide to a better bond with your dog. A large part of Modern Dog's mission is to support rescue and the organizations that work tirelessly to help to dogs in need. www.moderndogmagazine.com

About The Beverly Hilton
Opened in 1955 by distinguished hotelier Conrad Hilton, The Beverly Hilton, a Forbes Four-Star hotel, is owned by the Los Angeles-based, Oasis West Realty, LLC and managed by Hilton Worldwide (NYSE: HLT). Nestled at the crossroads of the iconic Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards, the hotel combines the excitement and entertainment of Hollywood with the prestige of Beverly Hills. The 569-room hotel features 101 suites including nine private luxury suites within The Penthouse Collection. With more than 60,000 square feet of indoor and open-air event space, The Beverly Hilton boasts the most technologically advanced meeting space of its kind in the country. The hotel's renowned International Ballroom plays host to glamorous annual events including the Golden Globe Awards Show, Oscar Nominee Luncheon, Pre-GRAMMYs Gala, and the Milken Institute's Global Conference. The legendary Aqua Star Pool is Beverly Hills' largest pool and is the setting for numerous recognizable photo shoots. The adjoining Aqua Star BABOR Beauty Spa offers red carpet-ready treatments from BABOR Beauty in a secluded setting. Circa 55 restaurant entices guests with locally-sourced cuisine in a stylish setting overlooking the pool, while Trader Vic's Lounge, a Hollywood staple for generations, offers a lively scene with Polynesian flair. For more information, please visit www.beverlyhilton.com or call 310.274.7777.

SOURCE American Humane Association

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