American Humane Association, the country’s first national humane organization, has announced the official start of the 2016 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards, sponsored by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation.

The annual, year-long campaign seeks to identify and honor America’s bravest heroes on both ends of the leash. Beginning on January 27th at 3pm Eastern Time, dog owners across the country are invited to visit www.herodogawards.org and nominate their heroic hound in one of eight categories. The top dog in each category will be flown to Los Angeles and celebrated at the September 10th star-studded, red-carpet awards gala hosted by Beth Stern and James Denton at the Beverly Hilton. One of the category winners will be unveiled as the American Hero Dog of the year – the most prestigious honor a canine can receive. The sixth annual Hero Dog Awards will air nationwide as a two-hour special on Hallmark Channel this fall.

The eight categories for 2016 are: Law Enforcement Dogs, sponsored by the RIMADYL K-9 Courage Program from Zoetis; Military Dogs, sponsored by the RIMADYL K-9 Courage Program from Zoetis; Therapy Dogs, sponsored by Chicken Soup for the Soul (who is also the official Pet Food Sponsor for the campaign); Service Dogs, sponsored by Modern Dog magazine; Emerging Hero Dogs, a category that pays tribute to ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things, sponsored by Merial, maker of NexGard (afoxalaner) Chewables; Arson Dogs; Search and Rescue Dogs; and Guide/Hearing Dogs. Following the nominations period, which ends on March 2nd, 24 semifinalists (the top three in each category) will be chosen in a first round of public voting. The second round, featuring a combination of public and celebrity voting, will narrow the field to eight category finalists who will then vie for the title of 2016 American Hero Dog.

Over the past five years, Americans have cast millions of votes for nearly a thousand dogs, all seeking the coveted title of American Hero Dog. The program reaches more than 1 billion people each year and draws the support and participation of top celebrity dog lovers from all over the world. Hosts, judges, award presenters, and entertainment acts have included Alison Sweeney, Bindi Irwin, Derek Hough, Michelle Beadle, Victoria Stilwell, Betty White, Whoopi Goldberg, Denise Richards, Joey Lawrence, Lisa Vanderpump, Burt Reynolds, Chelsea Handler, Martin Short, Jewel, Wilson Phillips, John Ondrasik, Carson Kressley, Miranda Lambert, Pauley Perrette, Kristen Chenoweth, Naomi Judd, Lori Loughlin, Lea Thompson, Eric Stonestreet, Fred Willard, Danica McKellar, Bailee Madison, and many, many more.

Winners in each category will earn $2,500 for their designated charity partner and the overall winner’s charity partner will win an additional $5,000 prize. Each charity partner is dedicated to celebrating the role of working dogs in our lives, and like American Humane Association, celebrates the importance of the human-animal bond.

“Every year, hundreds of dogs vie for the coveted title of ‘American Hero Dog’ at the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Association’s President and CEO. “Dogs do so many extraordinary things to improve and even save our lives, and this contest is our way of saluting our best friends.”

“To me, all dogs are heroes, and we cannot do enough to honor their achievements,” said Mrs. Pope. “It has been my absolute honor to serve as the presenting sponsor for the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards for five years, and I eagerly anticipate seeing this year’s extraordinary nominees.”

“For the past five years, Hero Dog Awards has been a focal point of Hallmark Channel’s on- and off- air advocacy initiative, Pet Project, and has shone a spotlight on some truly remarkable dogs,” said Bill Abbott, president & CEO, Crown Media Family Networks. “We are honored to once again partner with American Humane Association on this special program and look forward to recognizing this year’s eight finalists and their extraordinary stories of devotion, unconditional love, and bravery.”

Key dates for the 2016 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards contest include:
• January 27-March 2: Nominations period
• March 16-April 27: Voting to determine 24 semifinalists
• May 11-June 22: Voting to determine the 8 category finalists
• July 6-August 24: Voting to determine 2016’s American Hero Dog
• September 10: Sixth annual Hero Dog Awards event in Los Angeles


And because behind every hero pet there is a hero veterinarian or veterinary technician, the Hero Dog Awards once again will feature a second contest – the American Humane Association Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards, sponsored by Zoetis. Starting tomorrow, pet owners and animal lovers across America will be invited to nominate their favorite animal caretakers in these two fields, with each to be honored at the Hero Dog Awards event on September 10. The nomination period for this separate contest will open on January 28.

More information about the 2016 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards, including complete contest rules and entry information, can be obtained by visiting www.herodogawards.org. For more information about the 2016 American Humane Association Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards, please visit www.herovetawards.org. For more information on sponsorship opportunities email Mari Harner at marih@americanhumane.org or call 1-800-227-4645.

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