Back in late February, the nation’s top dogs and humane heroes gathered for a gala award luncheon at The Sailfish Club in Palm Beach to honor America’s most courageous canines and encourage nominations for the 2020 American Humane Hero Dog Awards®. The annual gala luncheon pays tribute to the best of our furry friends and some of the country’s best friends to animals. George and I were invited by our dear friend and band leader, Alex Donner, who performed during lunch. Guests included Sharon Bush & Bob Murray, Melinda Rockwell, Shannon Donnelly and others.
The event celebrated the extraordinary accomplishments of the top winners in their category for the 2019 American Humane Hero Dog Awards, including:
- The nation’s top 2019 American Hero Dog “Alice,” who helps a young victim of a tragic shooting by alerting him to oncoming seizures and assisting him with his balance issues;
- Military Hero Dog “Sgt. Yeager,” who led more than 100 patrols in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Improvised Explosive Detection Dog with the United States Marine Corps and located dozens of explosive devices. Sgt. Yeager was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in a blast;
- Law Enforcement Hero Dog “Dax,” who successfully apprehended more than 70 suspects, tracked and found dozens of missing or endangered children and adults, and participated in 100 narcotic searches resulting in the seizure of over 17 kilos of cocaine, heroin and other narcotics, hundreds of pounds of cannabis, three quarters of a million dollars in currency, and dozens of firearms;
- Therapy Hero Dog “Jeanie,” a three-legged rescue who went from being homeless and crippled to becoming a certified therapy dog, helping amputees and traumatized children;
- Guide/Hearing Hero Dog “Leader Dog Lady,” who helps her legally blind owner live a full and rich life;
- Search and Rescue Hero Dog “Piglet,” who helped bring closure to families following the devastating wildfires in California; and,
- Shelter Hero Dog “Gus,” who was found walking aimlessly down a busy street with a head so severely swollen you couldn’t tell he was a dog. A shoelace was tied so tightly on him that it sliced through his flesh in his neck almost to the bone. Gus now works to bring attention to the plight of homeless animals.
In addition to honoring the nation’s hero dogs, American Humane celebrated several human heroes for their outstanding work in supporting efforts to build a better world for the protection of animals. American Humane President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert praised the work of internationally renowned philanthropist Lois Pope, who has helped countless animals in need and served as the Platinum Presenting Sponsor of the Hero Dog Awards for ten years.
The organization made a special presentation to award-winning children’s author and philanthropist Loretta Neff, who has helped teach children about the remarkable power of the human-animal bond. Additionally, since every hero pet relies at some time on the skills of a hero vet, American Humane honored Dr. Terry Morris, the winner of the 2019 American Humane Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Nurse Awards, sponsored by leading animal health company Zoetis.
“For thousands of years, people have had a special connection with dogs,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “The Hero Dogs Award gala luncheon is an inspiring afternoon when we offer our thanks to so many of our great heroes — from service dogs who improve our lives to military dogs who fight alongside our troops to defend our freedom.”