Not All Superheroes Star in Their Own Movies

American Human AssociationNot all superheroes wear capes but some of them wear collars, and on September 12, 2012 a handful of unsung heroes took the stage in Gothall Hall in New York City to accept awards for doing what they do best, helping those in need. The annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards(TM) spotlight heroic canines who have saved lives, comforted those in need, and even served their country.

Eight dogs were singled out for honors, and humans were also recognized for their contributions to helping animals. Among those honored at the event was Masaaki Tanaka, Deputy President, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, who was given the American Humane Association’s highest honor, the National Humanitarian Medal. “Without his vital help, there would have been much more despair – and much less hope – for thousands of frightened, hungry, and homeless animals,” stated American Humane Association President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert. “Because of his intervention, critically needed support of the animals displaced and left behind when that cataclysm occurred, will, with our help, go on for the foreseeable future.”

SAG-AFTRA was also recognized for protecting animals who work in the entertainment industry and underwriting the AHA’s “No Animals Were Harmed®” certification program. “We have a 99.98 percent safety rate for animals on our sets and have protected so many of America’s most beloved non-human stars of the small and silver screen,” said Dr. Ganzert. “But we couldn’t have done it alone. We are so fortunate to have a partner in SAG-AFTRA that values all the actors who add so much joy, drama, and pathos to our culture and to our lives.”

2012 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards Finalists:


Winner: GABE (Columbia, SC) – Retired MWD Sgt. Gabe has served our great country since 2006 when he first reported for duty. From training in Ft. Lewis, WA to completing over 210 combat missions with 26 explosive and weapons finds in Iraq, MWD Sgt. Gabe still made time throughout the day to bring love and joy to his comrades. Since retiring in 2009, MWD Sgt. Gabe has earned over 40 awards and coins of excellence for his heroic work and spends his free time educating children on the value of respect and staying in school. (Charity Partner: The United States War Dog Association, Inc.)


Winner: DANIEL (Nutley, NJ) – Daniel, a beagle from an Alabama shelter on “death row,” did the unimaginable in 2011 when he survived the most inhumane form of euthanasia, the gas chamber. Since adopted by his loving guardian, Joe Dwyer, Daniel the “Miracle Beagle” has used his second chance at life as an advocate for shelter adoptions and humane euthanasia legislation across the United States. (Charity Partner: The Pine Street Foundation).


Winner: TABITHA (South Bend, IN) – Guide dog Tabitha is more than just a guide dog to her former guardian, Ann Drake, who lost her sight as an adult. Tabitha guided Ann back to a place within herself where she found the confidence that she had lost and overcame the fears of her new life. With Tabitha by her side, Ann went on to complete her undergraduate and graduate studies. (Charity Partner: Leader Dogs for the Blind).


Winner: JYNX (Shillington, PA) – On the evening of June 29, 2011, Law Enforcement-Arson K-9 Jynx desperately worked to try and pull his guardian Sgt.Kyle Pagerly and another officer out of harm’s way as a crime suspect opened fire during a routine warrant delivery. 28-year-old Sgt. Pagerly was killed in the line of duty leaving behind his pregnant wife. If not for the swift and heroic efforts of K-9 Jynx, more officers would have lost their lives that night. (Charity Partner: K9s4COPs).

HEARING DOG CATEGORY, sponsored by MRB Productions

Winner: TATIANA II (Plantation, FL) — Hearing dog, Tatiana II, was matched with handler Cristina Saint-Blancard in 2011 as her hearing dog but quickly turned into her life-saving hero. Cristina suffers from asthma which is exacerbated by frequent ear infections and one night found herself struggling for breath and soon completely without breath. Tatiana II was quick to notice something was wrong and ran into the next room to alert Cristina’s family. If not for Tatiana II that night, Cristina would not have gone on to graduate from Purdue University last December with Tatiana II by her side. (Charity Partner: Dogs for the Deaf).


Winner: SOOT (Charleston, WV) – West Virginia Search and Rescue K-9 Soot, didn’t know he had a big job ahead of him when he was adopted by Lorraine Burdette. Soot’s training in air scent, scent discrimination, and certified search and rescue wilderness training gave him the tools he needed to rescue a lost 78-year-old diabetic hunter lost in the wilderness on a cold December morning. (Charity Partner: The Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve).

SERVICE DOG CATEGORY, sponsored by Trupanion

Winner: HOLLY (Magna, UT) – Seizure alert Service Dog Holly never takes her attention away from her guardian, Shanna Wilkinson, who suffers from epileptic seizures. With Holly by her side, Shanna is able to embrace all of life’s gifts and challenges without fear. Together they travel and together they teach elementary students the importance of Service Dogs. (Charity Partner: International Association of Assistance Dog Partners).

THERAPY DOG CATEGORY, sponsored by Pfizer Animal Health

Winner: STELLA (Mt. Kisco, NY) – Therapy Dog Stella and her guardian Marissa Levy, dedicate their time to bringing love and joy to the residents at Richmond Community Services, a not-for-profit organization that cares for developmentally disabled children and adults. Stella is unfazed by disabilities and diseases – befriending and with time, unconditionally loving all she meets. Stella is the sunshine that beats the cloudy days for the residents and for that they are so appreciative. (Charity Partner: Angel On A Leash).

SOURCE American Humane Association