As pet lovers celebrate their furry friends throughout the month of April — National Pet Day, April 11; Kids and Pet Day, April 26; and National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day April 30 — critics from coast to coast have embraced the heartwarming, animated family tale Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero, based on the incredible, documented true story of a scrappy, little stray dog who became a celebrated hero on the battlefield during World War I.

Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero opens nationwide on April 13
Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero opens nationwide on April 13

As part of that month-long celebration of our beloved and faithful, furry friends, Fun Academy Motion Pictures has partnered with 90 national and regional animal organizations across all 50 states – including The Humane Society of the United States – to shine a light on the human-animal bond and the amazing things adopted animals can do when given a chance in life … and the true story of a little, stray dog who rose above and beyond the call of duty.

“A portion of the box office is going to support animal rescue groups and such initiatives as purchasing protective vests for police dogs,” says award-winning documentarian, producer-director Richard Lanni. “Stubby’s story is the ultimate underdog story and critics and audiences are reacting to the film’s appeal, teaching kids our nation’s history in a family friendly way and our mission to shine a spotlight on animal rescue. Additionally, some of the lessons learned in WWI are making headlines again today, providing an age-appropriate platform for parents to discuss hard topics with their children.”

In theaters now, Sgt. Stubby — starring Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter and Gérard Depardieu — is being saluted by critics from coast to coast for its captivating storytelling and family friendly messaging.

Well documented in history books, Sgt. Stubby tells the true “tail” of the unbreakable bond between a young Soldier and a stray dog who, for his valorous feats, is still recognized today as the first dog promoted to the rank of Sergeant in the U.S. Army, the most decorated dog in American history and is widely considered the forerunner to the U.S. Army’s working dog program.

But before he was a hero, Stubby was homeless, unwanted, unwashed and unloved, scrounging for scraps on the streets of New Haven, Conn. in 1917—Until he was taken in by Private First Class Robert Conroy of the 102nd Infantry Regiment, 26th “Yankee” Division.

In France, Stubby saw frontline action in four offensives and 17 battles. He found wounded Soldiers, saved an entire company by alerting the men to don gas masks and even caught a German spy. After the recapture of Château-Thierry, the women of the town made him an embroidered jacket that would serve as Stubby’s uniform and display his numerous awards throughout the rest of his career.

His exploits made front-page news in the U.S. and earned him the rank of Sergeant, the first time an animal is recognized as having been promoted through combat. Returning home to a hero’s welcome, Stubby and Conroy toured the country leading victory parades and met three sitting U.S. presidents, among other honors.

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