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Harley spent 10 years living in a small cage in a puppy mill before he was rescued and found a loving home. His journey of physical and emotional healing inspired a campaign called “Harley to the Rescue” which has raised the funds to save (and provide medical care for) more than 500 dogs from puppy mills over the past two years. Harley personally goes on these rescue missions; and there is no doubt that Harley is keenly aware of what is happening! There is something indescribable in the way he communicates with the sad and scared dogs. As a spokes-dog against puppy mills, Harley has educated thousands of people, of all ages, about the horrors of the commercial dog breeding industry. Harley makes public appearances at events and schools where he gladly accepts love and attention from everyone. Harley’s grizzled appearance is a testament to the care and nurturing that he had never received. He had issues: a diseased heart, a mouth filled with rot, a fused spine, a broken tail, gnarled toes, and legs that were deformed. And then there is the missing eye – the result of his cage being power-washed with him in it (an all too common practice in puppy mills). All of these conditions were the result of years of horrendous neglect and abuse. Harley is a voice for the thousands of breeding dogs still living in puppy mills, and by winning the “Emerging Hero” award it will draw attention to help further his mission.



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If servicemen have the hardest jobs in the world, service dogs have the second hardest.

My name is Captain Jason Haag (USMC, Ret.) and five years ago I was diagnosed with PTSD and traumatic brain injury after returning from two combat tours in the Middle East. When I finally made it home, I was in a constant state of severe depression and mental agony. I struggled with alcohol abuse and took more than 30 medications to deal with my debilitating symptoms.

In 2012, my wife urged me to reach out to K9s for Warriors, an organization that provides veterans with service canines. That’s how I met my lifesaver, a German Shepherd named Axel.

In combat, every soldier is paired up with a battle buddy. These days, my battle buddy isn’t another Marine. It’s Axel. Day in and day out, he’s by my side, ensuring that I’m in a constant state of peace and not fear. Sometimes all it takes is a little nudge from Axel to remind me that I’m out of the combat zone. Other times, Axel goes into full activation mode, using his training to remove me from an environment when a severe panic attack has begun.

When I met Axel, he was one week away from being put down, sleeping on a shelter floor. And I was sleeping in my basement with a gun under my pillow. Now I share a bed with a big and furry security blanket. And he’s a heck of a lot softer.



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Hudson and his two siblings at just three weeks old were found badly abused in Albany, NY near the local railroad tracks. Hudson’s paw had to be amputated due to his injuries. After lifesaving treatment for Hudson and Pearl (sadly, Carina did not make it), they became known as the “Railroad Puppies.” After several surgeries it was decided that Hudson was a great candidate for a prosthetic limb. Hudson became one of the first dogs in New York to be fitted with a prosthetic paw. (Google “The Railroad Puppies” and you can read the entire story). After Hudson adopted us I knew he was special and could do great things and spread awareness about animal cruelty. I got him in training with the goal that Hudson and me would become a therapy dog team. We DID!!! We’ve visited schools, hospitals, adult day care facilities and we have been hospices volunteers visiting with patients and their families. We continue to try to teach the children and everyone we meet that just because you’re different, you are still special in your own “Wooftastic” way. Hudson brings smiles to everyone he meets. I believe in my heart Hudson deserves this award for not only overcoming adversity but for the love and joy he brings to others. Hudson the Railroad Puppy is changing hearts and minds about the pit bull breeds one at a time. Thank you for your consideration for this prestigious award.

Search and Rescue


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Glory is an eight-year-old Bloodhound who has been trained and certified to track lost pets. During her long and successful career, she has helped bring closure to hundreds of families. Glory works in extreme temperatures and under difficult conditions and is devoted to her work.

“We were terrified,” says Stephanie, the owner of a lost cat, Pistol. “Pistol was gone from our front yard and we had no idea where to look. When Glory led me to the freeway and wanted to cross, I couldn’t believe it. But Glory was right, as we had Pistol back that same afternoon. Pistol had crossed the 101 freeway and was right across from where Glory indicated.”

Paisley, a Yorkshire terrier mix was lost three days. “How does one even put to words an experience of knowing we may never have seen Paisley again? Without your fierce help and Glory’s devotion to her work, we wouldn’t be sitting here with Paisley tonight.” -Derek

On Goldie, the Pomeranian. “When I received the devastating news that Goldie was missing, I spent six nights walking through the area and calling into a megaphone, put up 300 posters and offered a $1,000 reward. Goldie was lost 60 miles away with no food or water–it was more than my family could bear. Our hearts were broken. On day eight, Landa arrived with Glory working 24 hours a day in the rain. At nine days missing Glory found Goldie alive under crates in an outdoor factory.” -Karin

Guide / Hearing


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Chara was originally trained as a signal service dog. However due to a work accident in 2008, her handler developed a neurological condition known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy type II with Dystonia after a fractured hand. Due to the bond between handler and dog, Chara has trained herself to detect impending myoclonic dystonic attacks (15-45 minutes prior to episodes). This newly found “alerting” skill hasn’t formed just with her handler. Just two weeks after her handler gave birth to her son, he developed a severe cold. Unbeknownst to his mom (who’s also hearing impaired), he stopped breathing. Chara took it upon herself to alert her that something was terribly wrong (monitor was also going off). If it wasn’t for her quick response and love for the newest pack member, he would’ve succumbed to a condition known as SIDS. Chara has gone beyond her original skills of hearing dog. She’s demonstrated such a close bond between her handler and two-legged family that she’s the furry guardian or angel that watches over everyone and everything.



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I, Officer Chris Alberini work with my K9, Dax, He saved me from being shot when he climbed into an attic where a suspect was hiding with a shotgun. If Dax hadn’t been there, I’d be dead. On July 2, 2013 I was called to assist in the search for the suspect, who had a suspended driver’s license and an active arrest warrant. I called into the house the suspect had entered and told him to come out or I would send in Dax. When no one responded, Dax and I started to search the house. Dax found a ceiling hatch leading to an attic and alerted me. I yelled up to the suspect to come down. The man did not respond. I hoisted Dax into the attic, where he bit the suspect’s leg. I followed, carrying a flashlight and found Dax fighting with the suspect. That’s when the man started reaching for a shotgun from his left side. I tried fighting for the weapon and drew my service weapon and shot him twice. The man would have likely fired at me immediately if Dax hadn’t gone into the attic first. The suspect’s shotgun was loaded with five rounds of ammunition. He was waiting in the attic for the police officer to turn a flashlight on him and he was going to shoot. Investigators later learned that the suspect had texted his attorney and girlfriend about killing police. We all owe our lives to this brave K9.



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Sgt. Rambo served in the Marine Corps from January 6, 2011 to April 11, 2012 as an explosive detection MWD based out of MCCS Cherry Point, N.C. While on active duty, Rambo conducted 994 hours of training, and 622 missions on base and in his local community. Rambo was medically retired due to a left shoulder injury and in November 2012 had to have that limb amputated.
Rambo has gone on to be Alamo Honor Flight’s mascot, accompanying countless WWII veterans to Washington, D.C. and even having the honor of meeting Senator and Mrs. Bob Dole; the official ambassador for the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act, attending press conferences with both Congressman Walter Jones (R) of North Carolina and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D) of Connecticut. Rambo is currently the mascot for Gizmo’s Gift, a Texas nonprofit that offers financial support to families who adopt a retired working dog.
Rambo is able to connect with children and adults of all ages and capacities. While visiting local nursing homes he is able to bring love and life to the residents who suffer with dementia. He visits youth groups during the summer, and brings hope to children with special needs.
Rambo is a hero who is able to cross many lines and bring unity to animal welfare, human rights, and military and veteran groups, all because of his loving personality. By winning this award he can continue breaking down boundaries, and help bring awareness to Gizmo’s Gift and their supported heroes.

Law Enforcement and Detection


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Glory is a certified accelerant detection canine. She is trained to sniff out minute traces of hydrocarbon based accelerants which helps combat the growing problem of intentionally set fires. While the team does the majority of their work around their home base in Beloit, Wisconsin, it’s not uncommon for them to be called to investigate a fire anywhere within the state as well as neighboring states. As a nationally certified team, they are called to assist anywhere the need arises.

With the assistance of Glory’s keen sense of smell, her handler can confirm or rule out the possibility of arson within a matter of minutes. Without canine assistance, finding a cause could take weeks with multiple investigators sifting through the debris.

Glory’s keen senses go far beyond detecting accelerants. Firefighters and paramedics deal with situations that affect them emotionally. Glory has the ability to sense who is having a rough day and will spend time with them, which helps relieve that stress.

Public education is a substantial part of Glory’s job. Glory and her handler visit schools, clubs, and organizations, talking about fire safety, fire prevention and arson awareness. While public awareness is key to combating the growing problem of intentionally set fires, the team emphasizes the importance of creating and regularly practicing a plan to get out of the home safely. Fires are not selective nor do they wait for fire prevention week. Likewise, this team makes sure the message does not wait.