America Names Most Heroic Dog

Specialist Search Dog Gabe, the life-saving military working dog who served our country by completing more than 210 combat missions with 26 explosive and weapons finds in Iraq, has been named the top American Hero Dog at the American Humane Association Hero Dog AwardsTM, presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., and produced by Emmy® award-winning MRB Productions. Gabe was honored at the second annual Hero Dog Awards with his handler, Sergeant First Class Charles Shuck.

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The sold-out, star-studded awards honoring America's most courageous canines, hosted at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 6 by Emmy and Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth, was created to celebrate the powerful relationship between dogs and people and recognize extraordinary acts of heroism performed by ordinary dogs. The event will be broadcast nationwide by Hallmark Channel on November 8 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. The two-hour program will air as part of Hallmark Channel's PetProject, the network's cross-platform advocacy campaign designed to celebrate the joy and enrichment animals bring to our lives.

During a nationwide search over the course of six months, hundreds of dogs from all 50 states were nominated and more than three million votes were cast by the American public, culminating in the selection of eight extraordinary canine finalists.

"Tonight we honor some of the most extraordinary heroes the world has ever known, the very best of our 'best friends' – ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things," said Dr. Robin Ganzert, President and CEO of American Humane Association. "These courageous canines have gone above and beyond the call of duty, saving lives on the battlefield, comforting the ill, aged and afflicted, bringing hope to those who have lost it and reminding us the powerful, age-old bond between animals and people. Choosing a top dog is difficult because they are all so terrific, but we are proud to announce Gabe as the top American Hero Dog for 2012."

The winner is chosen through a combination of public votes and voting by a panel of animal advocates and celebrity judges including Whoopi Goldberg, Victoria Stilwell, Candy Spelling, Miranda Lambert, Kristin Bauer Van Straten, Michelle Forbes, J.R. Martinez, Tinsley Mortimer, Megyn Price, Prince Lorenzo Borghese, Edie McClurg, Tara Harper, Susan Orlean, Chrishaunda Lee Perez, Ashley Rhodes-Courter and Dr. Debbye Turner Bell.

Red Carpet Treatment

The finalists and their handlers were flown to Los Angeles by JetBlue Airways, Official Airline Sponsor for the 2012 Hero Dog Awards, where they were joined by Atticus, the evening's Grand Marshal Dog, who appeared on behalf of the nation's disabled veterans, four winning dogs from the Hero Dogs Class of 2011, and Michael Hingson, owner of Roselle, the 2011 American Hero Dog, who passed away in June 2011. The four-legged stars were joined by two-legged celebrities as they walked the Red Carpet and posed for a capacity crowd of reporters, video crews and photographers. Actor Joey Lawrence was the Red Carpet host, and broadcast journalist Erik Sandoval served as Special Red Carpet Correspondent.  Special musical guest Jewel performed three songs from her best-selling albums Pieces of You and This Way for the rapt crowd.

An outstanding lineup of celebrity VIPs and presenters that included Michael Vartan, Denise Richards, stylist and philanthropist John Paul DeJoria, Josh Hopkins, Trevor Donovan, Naomi Judd, Prince Lorenzo Borghese, Kellie Martin, Jake Pavelka, Pauley Perrette, Jake Austin, Mark Steines, Jenni Pulos, Victoria Stillwell, AJ Cook, Lisa Vanderpump, Jake T. Austin, Bailee Madison, Olympic Gold medalist swimmer Ricky Berens, Megyn Price, and SAG-AFTRA Co-President Ken Howard.

The evening included a special tribute video to SAG-AFTRA for their dedication in supporting American Humane Association's vital work in safeguarding the welfare and safety of every kind of animal on film and television sets around the world through the "No Animals Were Harmed®" certification program.

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