You can always tell about somebody by the way they put their hands on an animal.
— Betty White

The American Humane Hero Dog Awards® is an annual, nationwide competition that searches out and recognizes America’s Hero Dogs – often ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things, whether it’s saving lives on the battlefield, lending sight or hearing to a human companion, or simply providing the tail-wagging welcome a pet owner relishes at the end of a hard day. Dogs compete in seven different categories for the Hero Dog Awards:

  • Law Enforcement and Detection Dogs – Law enforcement dogs’ ability to help protect their human handlers, thwart lawbreakers, and find evidence makes them true partners to first responders, and these four-footed heroes are often considered law enforcement officers in their communities. Dogs have ultra-sensitive hearing, keen noses, and can accurately detect a variety of targets. Detection dogs are used to detect illicit substances, drugs, fire accelerants, firearms, or explosives that may be carried on a person in their effects or may be located at a crime scene. Dogs have also been shown to identify flora and fauna and a multitude of diseases in humans, including new training programs for infectious diseases like COVID-19. This Category seeks to bring well-deserved recognition to the heroes who do so much to protect our nation and keep us safe.
  • Service Dogs – Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks for people with disabilities as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) other than vision or hearing impairment (see Guide/Hearing category.) They can be trained to retrieve objects, assist with balance, detect seizure or diabetic alerts, or assist those with psychiatric disabilities.
  • Therapy Dogs –  Credentialed Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) dogs are part of a therapeutic plan to aid with physical, social, emotional and cognitive challenges for persons other than the dog’s owner/handler. Therapy dogs work to enhance the lives of people in need, visiting schools, hospitals, veteran centers, and beyond.
  • Military Dogs – Military working dogs play an active role in searching for explosives and seizing enemies on our battlefields, and have partnered with our troops since World War I. Active duty and retired military working dogs are honored for their courageous sacrifices to our country.
  • Search and Rescue Dogs – Search and rescue dog teams play a vital role in locating missing persons from accidents, natural disasters and beyond. These dogs are trained to use their keen sense of smell, night vision and endurance to help locate missing persons and return them home safely to their families.
  • Guide/Hearing Dogs – Guide and hearing dogs are the “eyes and ears” for millions of visual and hearing-impaired people, and they are specifically trained to assist by leading, obeying commands, avoiding distractions, retrieving items, alerting to danger and more. These incredible dogs are often credited by their human handler as providing independence and a new lease on life.
  • Shelter Dogs – With millions of dogs in shelters and on the streets in the U.S., many of the most incredible stories come from the heartfelt second chance stories of shelter and rescue dogs who are given a new “leash” on life. The Shelter Dog category shines a spotlight on ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things – the often-overlooked shelter or rescue dog who goes on to become a loved family pet. A shelter or rescue dog can be nominated for overcoming difficult odds, having a remarkable rescue story, or for simply brightening the lives of the those who gave them their second chance. Dogs eligible for the Shelter category can be adopted from a rescue organization or shelter, rescued from the streets or homelessness, or saved from unfavorable situations.

After voting by the American public, winners in each category are honored on Hallmark Drama’s nationwide broadcast of the American Humane Hero Dog Awards® this October.

Founded in 1877, American Humane is committed to ensuring the safety, welfare and well-being of animals. Our leadership programs are first to serve in promoting and nurturing the bonds between animals and humans. You can help make a difference – visit today.

We would like to thank our incredible celebrity Ambassadors for their support and work towards creating a more humane world! Our Ambassadors are champions for the humane movement and they are passionate about strengthening the human-animal bond.

Adrienne Maloof
Alison Sweeney
Bailee Madison
Barbara Niven
Carolyn Hennesy
Danielle Fishel
Lisa Vanderpump
Carrie Ann Inaba