The National Provisioner : Animal welfare is about much more than animals

pigs, pork, animal welfareThere was a time in our culture when many consumers were more connected to food and agriculture. Citizens knew a farmer or grew up near a farm, milk was delivered directly to people’s doorsteps, and consumers regularly visited their neighborhood butcher.

Yet business consolidation, innovation and technology dramatically changed this way of life, seemingly right before our eyes.

Similarly, animal welfare in food production is no longer just about farmers and ranchers and the way they treat their animals. It is now part of a comprehensive food system that includes consumers, retailers and restaurants, government and regulatory agencies, NGOs, auditors and certifiers, and educators. Our food system is predicated on a model of safety and affordability while aspiring to a balance that is moral and defensible.

With this evolution, the issue of animal welfare has become increasingly complex, resulting in the emergence of ethical and science-based standards.

In the late 1990s, a small movement began to address how animals were raised in food production. Thanks to advances in agricultural and environmental science, farmers were able to maximize the efficiency of their land, equipment and animals, leading to a plentiful supply of affordable food for a growing population.

In 1930, one farmer could feed 10 people, yet today’s farmer provides food to more than 150 people, a 15-fold increase. As the industry flourished, government agencies became burdened with oversight and regulation for safe products and adherence to basic production standards.

This then led to a gap — more like a chasm — between the way animals were being raised for food and how they were being treated in the process.

With rapid expansion and consumer demand, the food system became production-centric with little incentive to maintain higher animal-welfare standards. Aided by technology, machinery and business management, the detachment between farmer and animal grew larger, often at the expense of basic ethical principles.

In 2000, American Humane Association stepped in to create American Humane Certified, the first third-party animal-welfare audit program in the United States.

Recognizing most consumers seek safe and affordable food choices, including animal protein, American Humane Association made a decision to work in collaboration with farmers and ranchers to bring science-based, humane standards to ensure the welfare of animals in the production of food. A few progressive farmers voluntarily became early adopters of the certification process, as did an initial set of concerned consumers who were willing to pay a little more to ensure that the animals raised for food production were treated with compassionate principles and standards for humane handling.

Over the last few years, the negative attention and public perception of modern agriculture systems, including so-called “factory farms,” has grown. This social crusade has been propelled by hundreds of undercover videos documenting severe violations and often horrific incidences from both name-brand producers and smaller, lesser-known producers. A shift from niche activist blog posts to mainstream media coverage was an early indicator that consumer demand, in relation to the food supply, was going beyond the traditional constructs of economics. Now it is impossible to ignore.

With current legislative efforts to prohibit animal alteration practices and certain types of basic shelter, among other humane standards, the movement for transparency and desire for food labeling is intensifying. Not surprisingly, consumers are heavily invested in this trend. According to the Center for Culinary Development (as reported in a March 2012 story in QSR magazine), individuals in the Millennial generation focus heavily on what they eat, and how and where it was raised.

As consumers reconnect with food and agriculture, farmers markets have sprouted across the country, and “farm-to-table” is becoming a household term.

Animal welfare, however, must remain attainable for all Americans — not only those who can afford premium or niche products. Standards rooted in scientific assertion and evidence are critical for industry-wide acceptance and credibility, so consumers can be assured any animals raised for food were treated humanely.

These basic standards include adequate space in which an animal can stand up, turn around or extend its limbs or wings; enrichments by which an animal can express its natural behavior, such as nesting and perching, rooting, pecking and scratching, or lying down; access to others of their species; and elimination of painful procedures.

Humane standards covered by the American Humane Certified program are ethical and defensible, yet they are realistic and accommodate the majority of food shoppers who cannot afford to pay higher prices for their food. American Humane Association educates and trains farmers and ranchers about the science behind its standards and the processes necessary for ethical animal handling. As of today, the program has certified the humane treatment of nearly 1 billion farm animals, representing about 10 percent of the entire U.S. farm animal production. Though not a large percentage, it is significant to a growing body of consumers and industry advocates championing a change for higher standards.

Animal welfare is a process of continuous improvement, and farmers and ranchers are a critical part of the solution. Championing positive action — away from production-centric practices and toward animal-centric standards — and doing so within a framework of realistic and attainable goals, will produce long-term changes and a more transparent food supply with lasting cultural, environmental and economic advantages.

The time to join this movement is now. Today’s ranchers and farmers must be able to assure the public of their humane standards for animals. “Trust me” isn’t enough. Credible, third-party audits and rigorous, science-based standards make up the new model.

Although many Americans may never again have the personal relationship with their neighborhood farmer, rancher or butcher enjoyed by previous generations, we can assure rational protections for as many animals raised for food as possible and reconnect consumers with food and agriculture in a way that brings benefits to all involved.

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A New Year for Compassion

Thank you to all our supporters for helping make 2013 our most successful year ever in building a more humane world for children and animals. Together, we touched more than one billion lives with programs that brought comfort, caring and hope to the most vulnerable in their times of greatest need. In the year ahead we are working to do even more. Here are just a few of the exciting projects we have slated for 2014:

  •  American Humane Association will be releasing the first “State of America’s Children” report, exploring the most pressing issues and threats to the nation’s young people. This will be a companion piece to our yearly “State of America’s Animals” report
  • We are launching the full clinical trial of our “Canines and Childhood Cancer Study” with Zoetis to explore the healing power of the human-animal bond in helping children with cancer
  •  Our Humane Research and Therapy™ program is seeking funding for a unique study, “Canines, Kids and Autism,” a collaboration with the nonprofit Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) that seeks to uncover the genetic basis of obsessive-compulsive disorder in dogs and provide clues to the treatment of children with autism
  • In our ongoing campaign to bring our famed Red Star™ rescue services to help children, animals, families, and communities affected by disasters, we are working to expand our growing fleet of emergency response vehicles and base a rescue rig on the West Coast
  •  We are kicking off the fourth year of the country’s favorite awards show, the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™, celebrating heroes on both ends of the leash. Nominations are now open at
  • We are expanding our efforts to create a more humane world for animals in entertainment and those on our nation’s farms and ranches through enhancements and growth in our “No Animals Were Harmed®” and Humane Heartland™ programs.
  • Our new radio show, “Be Humane™ with Dr. Robin Ganzert,” has just launched and will feature breaking news in the humane space, as well as fun and thought-provoking interviews with some of America’s best-known experts and biggest stars who happen to be animal lovers. I hope you’ll join me to find out what’s happening around the world in the humane space…and to have a little fun, as well. You can tune in for a brand-new show weekly starting each Tuesday at

None of this would have been possible without the caring, compassion and commitment of millions of our supporters. Our grateful thanks go to each and every one of you for making last year such a success and laying the groundwork for a fresh year of victories for kids and animals. Together we will continue to make the world a more humane place for them….and all of us.

Celebrate #GivingTuesday by Giving Back

It’s Giving Tuesday, Celebrate by Giving Back

#IGiveFor #GivingTuesday
We hope you had a wonderful, stress-free holiday weekend. I’m sure many of you braved the crowds at your local stores, or went online to take advantages of the deals offered up by Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And after the dust has settled on some of the busiest shopping days of the year, we turn our focus to Giving Tuesday, the day that celebrates giving back.

Organizations like American Humane Association depend on the generous contributions of supporters like you. And thanks to you, we’ve been able to carry on our mission of spreading compassion, caring, and hope for a more humane world since 1877. Just this year, we were able to give back to America’s children and animals in many meaningful ways.

Ways American Humane Association Gave in 2013

  • Following the terror attack that struck the city of Boston in April 2013, we provided the healing power of the human-animal bond through animal-assisted therapy to children, students, families, first responders and anyone needing comfort and hope around the city.
  • Launched the pilot chapter of the LIFE Humane Heroes Club at a Florida elementary school. This new after-school program features a curriculum that will teach children the importance of being humane and making a more compassionate world for people, pets, and the world we share. This program will soon be implemented at schools nationwide.
  • Through our Second Chance® Fund we helped to pay the medical costs for 20 Chihuahuas that were stuffed into a coffin and left to die in the scorching sun. With love, care and medical attention, they are slowly learning to trust again and that not all people are bad.
  • In May 2013, following a devastating EF 5 tornado, our Red Star™ team deployed to help the community of Moore, Oklahoma. During our 30 days in Oklahoma—our longest deployment since Hurricane Katrina—we rescued and sheltered more than 200 animals. This deployment marked the debut of our new Lois Pope LIFE Rescue Vehicle, which traveled from its home base of South Florida to help the animals of Oklahoma in need.
  • Our Red Star™ Animal Assisted Therapy volunteers provided therapy dogs to 15 summer camps and family retreats hosted by National Military Families Association for children and families of our nation’s military.
  • In August 2013, we concluded the pilot trial of its Canines and Childhood Cancer study, a groundbreaking research effort to evaluate and document the benefits of animal-assisted therapy for children with cancer. A full clinical trial is expected to begin in late 2013.
  • In August 2013, our Red Star™ team worked in collaboration with other state and national animal organizations, caring and sheltering more than 250 animals rescued from a dog fighting ring spread across four states.
  • In September 2013, as part of a coordinated response to the flooding in Colorado, Red Star deployed to assist pets in need and to help provide emergency rescue operations. Working feverishly to help those in need, Red Star  and other animal rescue groups rescued over 146 animals, including dogs, cats, ducks, chickens and turtles.
  •  The 2013 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™ campaign named therapy dog Elle—a pit bull who teaches children how to read and about dog safety—as this year’s top Hero Dog.
  • In October 2013, the country’s first National Fire Dog Monument, honoring the brave work of arson dogs and their handlers, was unveiled and dedicated in our nation’s capital.
  • Held the first ever Cat Health and Welfare Forum, tackling head-on many of the issues that face America’s most popular pet.


But Giving Tuesday is more than just giving charitable contributions to organizations like American Humane Association. There are so many ways you can help and give back to your community.

  • Support American Humane Association’s mission and programs, protecting both children and animals by Donating
  • Pledge to help create a better, more humane and compassionate world for all of us
  • Share our message with your friends and family – Be sure to tag @AmericanHumane #IGiveFor
  • Volunteer at your local animal shelter. Find your local pet shelter using PetFinder
  • Volunteer to read to children at your local library. Find your local library here
  • Donate grocery store gift cards to your local homeless shelter. Find your local homeless shelter!
  • Donate food to your local pet food pantry. Find your local pet food pantry here
  • Sponsor a child by participating in a holiday tree in your local mall or at a local school
  • Become an American Humane Association Red Star volunteer
  • Serve a “Humane Table” this holiday season
  • See if your pet has what it takes to become a registered therapy animal, brightening the days of hospital patients, the elderly, and more. Click here

Thank you for all you do to make Giving Tuesday such a special day for so many.

What We’re Thankful For

Thank You!On this day of giving thanks, it’s important to reflect back on what’s important to you. I’d like to take a moment to tell you about 10 things American Humane Association is thankful for this Thanksgiving:

  1. Hero Dog Elle and Hero Dogs Everywhere. This pit bull was named the American Hero Dog at the 2013 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™, and it’s easy to see why. She took home top honors in the Therapy Dog Category because of her constant visits to a local retirement home, but she also helps children learn to read and teaches children the importance of dog bite safety. American Humane Association is against breed specific legislation, and Elle is doing wonders to breakdown negative stereotypes for her breed. Truly, we are thankful for all of the Hero Dogs in our lives.
  2. Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 2.31.25 PMOur dedicated Red Star™ volunteers. We couldn’t deploy to some of America’s most dangerous disaster zones without these extraordinary volunteers who give selflessly to rescue and care for animals in distress. This year, Red Star™ traveled to tornado-ravaged Oklahoma and flooded Colorado to save the lives of animals in crisis.
  3. The progressive farmers and ranchers in our American Humane Certified® Humane Heartland Program.  This year, American Humane Association announced that our program now ensures the welfare of nearly 1 billion farm animals, which is 10 percent of all animals raised on America’s farms and ranches! Now it is even easier than ever for consumers to make humane choices at the grocery store. getting-certified
  4. Military families. We salute the service of all men and women in the armed forces, but are also appreciate their families who support them on the home front. We are grateful that the National Military Family Association invites our animal-assisted therapy teams to visit their nationwide Operation Purple camps year after year. It is the least we can do to help brighten the days of the families of America’s bravest. It’s a wonder what a wag and a hug will do to brighten the day of the kids whose parents proudly serve our country!
  5. Scientific Advisory Committee members. These preeminent internationally respected animal welfare experts guide and shape the ever-evolving guidelines for our American Humane Certified® Humane Heartland and “No Animals Were Harmed”® programs, the latter of which has monitored the safety of animal actors on set for more than 70 years at an astonishing 99.98 safety rating. We thank the scientists who give of their time and talents to our humane initiatives.
  6. Our fabulous celebrity supporters. Some of Hollywood’s brightest stars are counted among our most loyal fans. Such luminaries as Betty White and Donny Osmond help us to spread our enduring 136-year old message of compassion, caring, and hope.
  7. Wonderful corporate partners. Through their generous sponsorships we are able to continue our vital work of saving America’s kids and animals, including our groundbreaking humane research initiative on Canines and Childhood Cancer and our recent Cat Health and Welfare Forum. Through their generous support, American Humane Association has led the way in humane research for children, animals, and the power of the human-animal bond.
  8. Child and animal welfare workers. These local heroes do so much every day in our hometown communities rescuing our most precious in time of need and crisis. American Humane Association has long supported their efforts through training and research, and salutes their valuable contributions to making our hometowns more humane. A shout out to our Humane Hero Manny Maciel from Massachusetts for being a special hero to so many!
  9. African American military father hugging familyOur own families and friends. They know the importance of American Humane Association’s 136-year old mission and are always there for us through thick and thin. We cherish getting to spend our holidays with them.
  10. And finally, the support of people like you. We remain ever grateful for the support we have been afforded by the American public since 1877. Every day we go to work to protect billions of the country’s children and animals from cruelty, abuse, and neglect, and we couldn’t do it without you. Whether it’s through generous contributions, liking our Facebook posts, or helping to spread our message of compassion, caring, and hope, thank you.

I hope you enjoy your long weekend, whether you’re spending it with family or friends, watching football, shopping, or even sneaking that extra piece of pie.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at American Humane Association.


Give the Gift of…Giving

Give the gift of givingThis holiday season, one of the greatest challenges each of us face when it comes to shopping for the grandkids is: How much is enough? Children already receive enough toys, electronic games (and the obligatory sweaters) that they can barely appreciate what they get as it is. For those of us who worry that the holidays have become too commercial and too removed from the true spirit in which they were created, it may be time to employ a new strategy – one that brings a little meaning back to what is supposed to be a meaningful time of year.

This year, instead of buying that one extra toy or mobile device, why not give your grandkids the best gift of all…the gift of giving? Teaching a new generation the joys and importance of helping others is one of the greatest lessons we can provide – and it’s so simple.

  • Teach by example: Encourage giving by kids by letting them see your charitable efforts in action. Involve them when you’re volunteering or making your own end-of-year contributions, explaining as you fill out your check or online pledge why you chose a particular cause, what the money will do, and explaining that the donation is coming from the whole family, including them.
  • Start when kids are young. Teach kids that it really is better to give than to receive by making helping others a part of your family’s holiday tradition.
  • Surprise them by making a gift in their name.  When presents are being given out, set aside a box containing “something special” that requires an explanation from you before it is given. Let your child know that the holidays are a special time, and that there are children, animals and others who are not as lucky as they are to have a home, be healthy, or have the food or love they need, much less presents. Then explain that you have made a gift in their name to a charity that will help make a better world and that that your grandchild is part of this effort. Some nonprofits, including American Humane Association, provide handsome downloadable cards that include your name and the child’s name together, along with an explanation of how the gift will be used.

Giving children the “gift of giving” introduces a new generation to the importance of helping others in need. It helps bring families closer and kindles the spirit of the holidays better than any expensive toy or electronic game ever could. And it helps the children themselves, who begin to see how they are part of a larger community and can take pride in knowing they can help make a difference in the world and the lives of others.

And that’s really what the holidays are about.

Make a contribution today

Celebrate Hero Dogs!

Congratulations Elle!

As a champion for hometown heroes who embody the best of America, I must tell you that I stand in awe of the Hero Dogs that America has selected as the top finalists in the Third Annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™! These dogs – and their humans – represent courage, conviction, honor and unconditional love. The power of the human-animal bond is celebrated by the stories found not only among the eight finalists, but indeed all of those who participated in this year’s campaign. I am proud of each dog nominated, and honored that they have chosen to share their personal story with all of America. Special thanks to each of the participants in this year’s campaign!

And on Saturday evening, the moment all of Man’s Best Friends were waiting for – the announcement of the 2013 American Hero Dog at the Third Annual Hero Dog Awards in Beverly Hills, CA!

From an outstanding field of 141 four-legged heroes, eight of America’s top dogs were chosen by the public as winners in each of their specialized categories: K9 Lakota of Locust Grove, GA won in the Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs category, sponsored by State Farm®;John D of Little Rock, AR won in the Search and Rescue category; Jingles of Amsterdam, NY won in the Guide Dogs category; Lola of Bellingham, WA won in the Hearing Dog category, sponsored by MRB; CWD Carlos EDD of Colorado Springs, CO won in the Military Dogs category, sponsored by Royal Canin®; SD Bronx of Brunswick, GA won in the Service Dogs category; Elle of Roanoke Rapids, NC won in the Therapy Dogs category, sponsored by Zoetis; and Cassidy of Midvale, UT won in the Emerging Hero Dogs category, honoring ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things, and sponsored by Paul Mitchell Schools.

Americans had a tough decision to make in choosing this year’s American Hero Dog as they are all outstanding – and the final votes tallied in a competitive campaign revealed that Elle won! Elle, a pit bull who is a therapy dog, won the top prize.

The eight finalists traveled with their human partners to Hollywood for a star-studded gala and award ceremony at The Beverly Hilton featuring Betty White and other canine-loving celebrities. Each finalist was presented with a Hero Dog Award for their feats of loyalty, bravery, and love, and win $1,500 for a selected charity partner. In addition, Elle as the American Hero Dog for 2013 secured an additional $5,000 for her charity partner.

A Visit with Hero Dog Elle during her Awards Show Tribute Taping

Hero Dog Elle - Courtesy of Hero Dog Elle Facebook

Each of the eight finalists was presented on the awards show with a video tribute presenting their story, and featuring their heroic deeds in action. This is my favorite part of the awards show – watching the video tributes of each of the eight finalists. Who can forget that most memorable tribute to Law Enforcement Hero Dog Jynx last year? And, do you remember the video tribute to the 2011 Inaugural American Hero Dog, Roselle? Those video tributes are why the Hero Dogs Awards is my favorite television show all year long! Thank you, Hallmark, for bringing this show to millions of Americans!


So just a few weeks ago, I drove to a small town in North Carolina – Roanoke Rapids – the home of Hero Dog Elle to see her video tribute being filmed. Roanoke Rapids is home to another celebrity, Will Ferrell, but the folks I met with were there to celebrate the accomplishments of their new hometown hero, Elle. I visited Elle for her tribute taping for the awards show at the Bayberry Retirement Home, and had a visit at her home with her pet parent, Leah. The
Bayberry residents (including the delightful Ms. Ruth and charming Mr. Jeff who both are in their 90s) were beyond thrilled to share stories of Elle and of their activities in their retirement home community. Elle is a pit bull, and she provides education throughout her community on her breed. (As you may know, American Humane Association recently applauded President Obama for opposing breed-specific legislation.) With the participation of Elle in the Hero
Dog Awards, we are hopeful that millions of Americans will see pit bulls in a brand new light.

As I pulled out of Roanoke Rapids on that steamy summer afternoon, I felt inspired. Here is a small town in America celebrating the power of the human-animal bond – with our greatest generation celebrating therapy dogs with a gorgeous pit bull. Cheers to Ms. Ruth and Mr. Jeff, and all of the residents of Bayberry Retirement Home for a lovely day!

The finalists and their home towns came together to honor the power of the bond – and we get the pleasure of learning their stories on October 30 on the Hallmark Channel!

Elle in the News

2013 American Hero Dog Campaign

Every dog who was nominated is truly an American hero. Every day, in all sorts of ways, dogs protect, comfort, and provide unconditional friendship and nonjudgmental companionship to the sick, the infirm, our veterans and their families, and children facing difficulties. This is American Humane Association’s third year celebrating the very special friendship and absolute heroic feats they perform for us daily. We thank the animals, their dedicated owners and handlers, and the generous sponsors who have helped bring about that recognition: The Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Hallmark Channel, MRB Productions, national online sponsor and Therapy Dog sponsor Zoetis®, Military Dog sponsor Royal Canin®, Law Enforcement and Arson Dog sponsor State Farm®, Emerging Hero Dog sponsor Paul Mitchell Schools, Best Producer sponsor Merial and print sponsor Modern Dog magazine. Pet Life Radio is the official radio for the Hero Dog Awards. And so many more were there supporting the program. Dogs may be our best friends, but these caring organizations are theirs.

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“Heroes come in all colors and sizes, and they don’t just walk on two legs,” Lois Pope says. “I have seen dogs bring such love and joy to the lives of children with cancer and other debilitating illnesses, and offer tremendous support and comfort to disabled veterans. I know there are dogs who are working alongside and protecting our police and fire professionals and our military. And of course, there are so many dogs who provide invaluable and life-transforming service to the blind and the deaf. They are true heroes and they deserve our love, our respect and our honor. That’s why I’m so proud to be a part of this awards program and American Humane Association.”

“There is no way to truly quantify the contributions dogs make to our lives, whether heroic and loyal working dogs or those special pets that are such treasured members of our families,” said Bill Abbott, president and CEO, Crown Media Family Networks. “We at Hallmark Channel are so proud to be a part of the Hero Dog Awards program, which is one way we can acknowledge and celebrate our canine heroes, while informing the public about the many ways dogs enrich, guard, and save our lives every day.”

The Hero Dog Awards were created by American Humane Association to recognize and honor the powerful relationship between dogs and people. The annual national competition searches out and recognizes America’s hero dogs who unreservedly help us in so many important ways, whether it’s saving lives on the battlefield, lending sight or hearing to a human companion, providing therapeutic support to those suffering from cancer, or helping autistic children find their voice and connect with the world.

And the Category Winners Are….


(sponsored by Paul Mitchell Schools)

WINNER: Cassidy (Midvale, UT) –

Three years ago a good Samaritan pulled over to pick up a pile of trash on the side of the highway. Under the garbage was a skinny, matted, scared little black dog who had been hit by a car. Cassidy was rushed to the emergency vet where his front leg was amputated. Sheltie Rescue of Utah took him into their program and Cassidy found his forever home with Kathy. But Cassidy’s amazing journey did not stop there; he is an advocate for special needs rescues and works to show that every life has value. He is proof that dogs are not disposable. Cassidy and his mom also do presentations for children about disabilities, acceptance and how everyone is different, special and has something positive to give to the world. Cassidy visits rehabilitation centers and is living proof that there is always hope and that anything is possible. Despite everything he has been through he has a very loving and trusting nature. He snuggles into each person’s arms and shows them that he is perfect the way he is and that they too are perfect the way they are.

(Charity Partner: Sheltie Rescue of Utah)


WINNER: Jingles (Amsterdam, NY) –

Jingles is a Lab/Golden cross guide dog who works as part of a heroic team with a diabetic alert canine to help Karen Ann, who is multiply disabled. Jingles is joy unbounded, full of exuberance, and works hard to guide Karen Ann safely in every situation. Crossing streets Jingles maintains focus in the face of blaring horns, screeching brakes, and quiet hybrid vehicles that sneak up out of nowhere. She’s adept at avoiding kids on scooters, people bustling by, construction barriers and the distraction of yapping pet dogs on flexi leads. In stores she steers Karen Ann clear of day-dreaming shoppers darting out of aisles with loaded carts, and guides her safely to where she wants to go. Jingles was trained to work on the left side of her partner but since Karen Ann is unable to work a dog on that side, Jingles underwent additional training and now she is Karen Ann’s “right hand” girl. Jingles is unusual among guide dogs as she’s trained to work in tandem with a second service dog. Together they offer a profoundly special gift to Karen Ann, offering her independence, safety and dignity. Karen Ann says both dogs are her heroes, but “Jingles is absolutely a one of a kind guide dog.”

(Charity Partner: The Seeing Eye)


WINNER: Lola (Bellingham, Washington) –

Lola, a dog rescued from abuse and neglect, is paying it forward—daily helping and rescuing her partner Charlene, who is deaf. Charlene relies on Lola for so many things, connecting her to the world of sound around her. Lola is her alarm clock, her exercise companion, and her reason to move beyond depression and self-imposed isolation. Lola expands her activities, reminding Charlene to improve, not compromise, her quality of life. Whenever the oven-timer buzzes, the phone rings, or someone knocks at the door—Lola alerts her and insists on Charlene’s paying attention to the world around her. She’s always game for going to the ballpark, hospital visits, grocery store, rides on airplanes – even canoeing. Lola is a gem of a partner; she lightens Charlene’s spirit as a source of courage and peace. When Charlene is alone, she helps her cope with the impact of hearing loss. Says Charlene, “Let the trumpets blow, fireworks blast, and the parade begin—my hearing dog Lola is a life-saver—an unsung heroine who gives her best daily to fulfill a higher purpose and for whom I’ll be forever grateful.”

(Charity Partner: Dogs for the Deaf)


(sponsored by State Farm®)

WINNER: K9 Lakota (Locust Grove, Georgia) —

K9 Lakota served alongside Officer Travis Fox for less than four years but made remarkable achievements in his short career, among them more than 80 apprehensions, 28 drug seizures, $60,000 seized, six vehicle seizures, the recovery of stolen property, and the seizure of $60,000. K9 Lakota’s career was ended prematurely in route to a home invasion call when Officer Fox and K9 Lakota ended up in a serious car accident. The accident split the car in two, ejecting both the officer and the dog from the car. K9 Lakota was not expected to live but his strong spirit fought on and after four surgeries (with more expected in his future), he is enjoying life in retirement. His work and his will to fight and live have shown his heroic side and he has brought people all over the world together for his cause. His story is now being used to help change laws for Law Enforcement Officer K9s so that they are better protected by their departments in case they are injured in the line of duty. K9 Lakota has been a true hero both in the line of duty and in retirement.

(Charity Partner: K9s4COPs)


(sponsored by Royal Canin®)

WINNER: CWD Carlos EDD (Colorado Springs, CO) —

Explosive Detection Dog CWD Carlos retired in 2011 at the age of eight, after protecting U.S. and ISAF forces in continuous deployment for nearly five years. CWD Carlos, who worked with the U.S. Army’s 3rd & 4th Infantry Divisions in Baghdad for two and a half years, was then transferred to Kandahar in 2009 to work in direct support of U.S. Special Forces on the front lines. Carlos is credited with finds on missions that saved the lives of many American soldiers. As Carlos aged, he was transferred to work with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan that was established by the United Nations Security Council. Sadly, upon retirement Carlos seems to have been the victim of neglect. To this day, Carlos still carries ligature mark scars on his back legs from hobble-style restraints. Fortunately for this hero, he was reclaimed, eventually adopted by the Ridpath family, and got a “Freedom Flight” HOME! Carlos continues to bring awareness to the contributions of all working dogs. A warrior with a zest for life in spite of his challenging medical issues, CWD Carlos is a true hero who saved uncounted lives while deployed, attends events, visits schools, and is an inspiration to everyone he meets.

(Charity Partner: Military Working Dog Adoptions)



WINNER: John D (Little Rock, AR)

– John D is a Search and Rescue dog, human cancer detective and all-around humanitarian. When needed, John D is called in to find the missing in kidnappings, disasters, drownings, and other emergencies. One day, John D was called in for a river search. Moments after he arrived, a woman approached and asked to pet him. She hugged him and whispered in his ear, “YOU are my only hope. Please go find my child. Please bring my baby back to me.” There was an immediate bond between them. John D then boarded a boat and went out on the river. For hours he searched. John D was drawn to the water, completely focused on it and began dipping his nose at the same spot. When the boat returned to shore, this hero dog leapt off the boat, running straight to the woman who had greeted him. He leaned hard against her. She bent down and hugged him. When she lifted her face from John D’s fur, there were tears. John D had found her son who had drowned two days before. John D also works to save lives by using his remarkable scenting ability to advance the use of canines in detecting ovarian cancer and other cancers, which may help save a mother, daughter or sister from a devastating disease. John D’s determination to work, despite his own severe hip dysplasia, provides inspiration to others. Once a rescue dog saved by people, now John D spends his life helping and saving them.

(Charity Partner: The Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve)


WINNER: SD Bronx (Brunswick, GA)

– Can you imagine having your whole world change? Can you imagine having no friends? For 14-year-old Christopher those two questions were his reality. At the age of nine, Christopher began having seizures and was spending most of his childhood in the hospital trying to get answers. The answers were coming, but none of them were good. The doctors found out what was causing the seizures and they tried to use medicine to control them – one medicine after another. The seizures made it impossible for Christopher to attend school and other kids no longer wanted to be his friend – they were afraid of the seizures. Even Christopher was too afraid to sleep in his bedroom and didn’t like leaving the house – the seizures had taken his childhood from him. Enter SD Bronx! Suddenly Christopher was not alone in his terrifying fight. His hero dog would tell him when seizures were about to happen and quickly alert others to help. SD Bronx stayed by his side at all doctor visits, and was there when Christopher lost half his field of vision, stepping into another role and working with Christopher and his sight cane. The challenges were hard but hero dog SD Bronx has helped Christopher to do more than he ever dreamed he could.

(Charity Partner: Texas Hearing and Service Dogs)


(sponsored by Zoetis)

WINNER: Elle (Roanoke Rapids, NC)

– Elle began her journey as a therapy dog in 2010 and has touched many hearts, leaving a lasting impression on those she meets. Elle is saving lives by teaching children dog safety and making positive life changes for people by helping them overcome their fear of dogs. Since becoming a volunteer, Elle started a therapy dog reading program called “Tail Wagging Tales,” helping children enjoy books and improve their reading skills. Elle is making a difference by creating happiness all around while visiting her friends at an elementary school, a middle school, and a retirement home. Elle also reaches out to educate families about being responsible pet parents, sharing stories about her job as a therapy dog, and spreading positive awareness about dogs that are misunderstood. Everyone loves her signature “high-five” greeting when making a new friend, allowing for a real life meet-and-greet with a pit bull. Elle was invited to have her school portrait in the Vaughan Elementary School Annual and she is now called a “Hometown Hero” in her community. Hero Dog Elle hopes her work will create a better future for young people to learn about love, understanding, and kindness to all.

(Charity Partner: Hand in Paw)


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 today.

About Lois Pope, The Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., and LIFE (Leaders in Furthering Education
Lois Pope is one of America’s leading philanthropists and humanitarians. Through her various charitable mechanisms, including the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., she is devoted to saving lives, helping people help themselves, improving the quality of life for families in need and encouraging young Americans to become leaders by helping others. Her foundations also provide awards for medical research, college scholarships, humanitarian relief, the performing arts, and animal welfare. Among the many organizations that benefit from her leadership are American Humane Association; the Disabled Veterans’ LIFE Memorial Foundation, which she founded to spearhead the development of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, the nation’s first and only permanent public tribute to the three million living disabled American veterans and the thousands who have died; the University of Miami, where her major contribution endowed the Lois Pope LIFE Center, the top catastrophic neurological research facility in the world and home to the renowned Miami Project to Cure Paralysis; Leaders in Furthering Education, which has provided a summer camp experience for more than 15,000 disadvantaged and special needs children, as well as college scholarship support to dozens of disadvantaged high school students who aspire to careers as physicians/researchers; Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s Red Cross, for new ambulances; and the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League for a new mobile pet adoption unit.

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 original TV movies and specials, 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 a range of lifestyle programming, anchored by 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 . Hallmark Channel on Social Media: Facebook, Twitter (Join the conversation at #HeartofTV), Pinterest, GetGlue, YouTube

About MRB Productions

Launched in 2001 by Emmy Award-winning Executive Producer Matthew Brady, MRB Productions has quickly become one of Hollywood’s go-to production companies, garnering 15 Emmy nominations and 2 wins for its visually striking content. In features, MRB’s political comedy, GRASSROOTS, starring Jason Biggs, opened theatrically in the US and Europe and is also available On Demand. EMANUEL AND THE TRUTH ABOUT FISHES, a psychological thriller starring Jessica Biel, premiered in competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and was picked up for distribution by Tribeca Film. In television, MRB is the production company behind two seasons of FREE RADIO (VH1 and Comedy Central), THE OTHER MALL (ABC Family), and the annual HERO DOG AWARDS for Hallmark Channel. MRB also produces content for HBO, ESPN, NBC, ABC, NFL Network, and Longhorn Network. In the digital space, MRB’s work ranges from comedy shorts on  unny or Die to the critically acclaimed Webby Award winning THE CONFESSION, starring Kiefer Sutherland, produced exclusively for Hulu and distributed internationally by Sony Pictures Television.

About Zoetis

(zō-EH-tis) is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on a 60-year history as the animal health business of Pfizer, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, with a focus on both farm and companion animals. In 2012, the company generated annual revenues of $4.3 billion. With approximately 9,300 employees worldwide at the beginning of 2013, Zoetis has a local presence in approximately 70 countries, including 29 manufacturing facilities in 11 countries. Its products serve veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals in 120 countries. For more information on the  ompany, visit

About Royal Canin USA

Royal Canin USA is a leader in science-based cat and dog health nutrition. Founded by a veterinarian in 1968, Royal Canin has more than 40 years of experience in delivering individualized nutritional solutions. In collaboration with an expert team of nutritionists, breeders, and veterinarians from around the world, Royal Canin places cats and dogs at the central point of the innovation process. The Royal Canin product line offers a range of diets based on size, age, breed, life style and  herapeutic requirements. Royal Canin diets are available at veterinary hospitals and pet specialty stores nationwide. Royal Canin is a subsidiary of Mars, Incorporated. To learn more about Royal Canin and “LIKE” us on  acebook at

About State Farm

State Farm and its affiliates are the largest provider 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 69,000 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  ttp:// or in Canada


About Paul Mitchell Schools

At Paul Mitchell Schools, we believe that education is an adventure and the learning experience needs to be fun. Our instructors—we call them “learning leaders”—are trained to draw out the artist in every student and prepare them to compete in the real world. Through our annual “FUNraising” campaign, we’ve raised and donated millions of dollars in support of many charitable causes. We’ve built homes with Habitat for Humanity, fed thousands of African orphans, and supported the victims of AIDS, breast cancer, homelessness, abuse, and hundreds of other causes. Established over 30 years ago, the Paul Mitchell network is nearly 100,000 salons strong and in 81 countries worldwide; every professional hairdresser knows the Paul  itchell name. Now, with the arrival of Paul Mitchell Schools, we’ve taken the world of cosmetology education by storm! Visit to learn more.

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. Its 2012 sales were $2.8 billion (€2.2 billion).Merial is a Sanofi company. For more information, please see


About Modern Dog Magazine

A must-read for dog lovers! Get inspired with the best ideas and solutions for life with dogs. Each issue features breed profiles, budget buys, activities for you and your dog, health & wellness, dog-friendly travel destinations, rescue stories, product reviews, photo contests, giveaways and more! Modern Dog is your guide to a better bond with your dog.