March 22, 2018 – The nation’s top dogs, humane heroes, and musical stars gathered at a glamorous gala event held at The Breakers in Palm Beach to honor America’s most courageous canines. The annual American Humane Hero Dog Awards gala luncheon paid tribute to the best of our best friends and two of the country’s best friends to animals, philanthropist Lois Pope and longtime animal welfare advocate John Payne.
American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, kicked off this year’s nationwide campaign to identify and honor the nation’s most heroic hounds by celebrating the extraordinary accomplishments of the top winners of the 2017 American Humane Hero Dog Awards. Among those in attendance were: The nation’s top 2017 American Hero Dog Abigail, a victim of dogfighting who now fights this terrible evil and has become a national symbol of forgiveness; the 2017 Hero Service Dog Atlas, who helped save the life of a former U.S. Marine coping with Post-Traumatic Stress following his service in Iraq; the 2017 Hero Therapy Dog Aladdin, who was severely neglected but has now become a therapy dog, visiting schools, serving as a trained crisis response dog, and working with special needs children; the 2017 Guide/Hearing Dog Pierce, who helped improve the life of an Operation Desert Storm veteran who lost his sight as a result of his wartime injuries; and the handlers of two hero dogs who have passed away since capturing their titles, 2017 Search and Rescue Dog Luca, who came out of retirement to find and save an elderly man with Alzheimer’s, and 2017 Military Dog Adak, who worked as an explosives detection dog in Iraq and Afghanistan, saving uncounted lives.
In addition to honoring the nation’s hero dogs, American Humane honored two of its human heroes for their outstanding work in supporting efforts to build a better world for the protection of animals. American Humane President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert named philanthropist and Platinum Presenting Sponsor of the Hero Dog Awards Lois Pope the country’s “First Lady of Compassion.” And Dr. Ganzert presented board member and national animal healthcare executive John Payne with the organization’s prestigious “Humane Hero Award.”
Since every hero pet relies at some time on the skills of a hero vet, American Humane specially recognized Dr. Patti Canchola, the winner of the 2017 American Humane Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Nurse Awards, sponsored by leading animal health company Zoetis.
Complementing the animal stars of the day was a galaxy of top entertainment and television stars, including Hero Dog Awards co-host Beth Stern and Daisy Fuentes, with dazzling performances by Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and producer Richard Marx, and the renowned Alex Donner Orchestra.
“For thousands of years, people have had a special connection with dogs, and the American Humane Hero Dog Awards are our way of honoring the best of our best friends,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “The ‘Hero Dogs Award Gala Luncheon’ is an inspiring afternoon when we offer our thanks to so many of our greatest heroes – from service dogs who improve our lives to military hero dogs who fight alongside our troops and defend our freedom. We are grateful to all of them, and the human heroes who support them, including our Platinum Presenting Sponsor Lois Pope, our category sponsors, and our National Ambassadors for helping us recognize their remarkable accomplishments.”