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Natural Awakenings San Diego

American Hero Dog: Recognized at Gala

Oct 24, 2011 08:15PM

Photo: Maria Goodavage

Every dog really does have his day—or, in this case, hers. Roselle, the guide dog that led her blind master safely down 78 flights of stairs following the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center, has been named American Hero Dog of the Year at the world’s first American Humane Association (AHA) Hero Dog Awards, presented by CESAR® Canine Cuisine. Roselle, who passed away this summer, was posthumously honored at the gala, which was attended by her owner, Michael Hingson.

Hosted by Carson Kressley at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 1, the awards represent an ambitious new effort to celebrate the powerful relationship between dogs and people and to recognize extraordinary acts of heroism performed by ordinary dogs. The event will be broadcast nationwide on November 11 on the Hallmark Channel.

Hundreds of dogs were nominated from all 50 states during the six-month nationwide search, and some 400,000 votes were cast by the American public, culminating in the selection of eight ordinary canine finalists. One of them was Harley, who became Nancy Otte’s hearing dog when she was 52. “Harley has given me self-confidence and a feeling of equality with others

Elaine Russo Gregory, Publisher (left), with Linda Michaels, Dog Psychologist
Elaine Russo Gregory, Publisher (left), with Linda Michaels, Dog Psychologist
that I’d not experienced before,” says Otte. “All of these gifts are priceless to me, but to imagine they came from a dog is almost unfathomable!”

“Every day across America, dogs protect, comfort and give their unconditional friendship and affection to the ill, the infirm, the wounded veteran and the frightened child,” says Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the AHA. “It is time to recognize the contributions of man’s best friends and celebrate the heroic feats they have performed for us every day. Every dog nominated is a bona fide hero, and all eight finalists were winners in their categories. Now, after hundreds of thousands of votes by the American public and consideration by a panel of VIP judges, we are proud to announce Roselle as the top American Hero Dog for 2011.”

The gala was attended by numerous celebrities, some of which also served as judges and presenters. During the award presentations, a surprise arrived: a $1 million gift to the AHA from philanthropist Lois Pope.

Serving at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting children, pets and farm animals from cruelty, abuse and neglect since 1877, the American Humane Association is

Mark Stubis
Mark Stubis
leading the way in understanding the human-animal bond and its role in therapy, medicine and society. The association reaches millions every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses.

AHA Chief Communications Officer Mark Stubis, who helped organize and orchestrate the gala, says, “The AHA is a unique organization with an outstanding legacy of advancing the welfare of children and animals and opening people’s eyes, hearts and minds to the importance of protecting the most vulnerable among us. I am eager to share their stories of hope and caring with a national and global audience to further this important work and make continued progress toward a vision of a more humane and compassionate world.”

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