In 2015, Antonio was a normal, playful 9-year old, who loved soccer, and his friends. Then, on a normal day, riding in the back of his parents SUV with his younger brothers on the way to a family dinner, a man who fired 3-5 bullets into their car shot him in the head.
Since that day Antonio has been fighting the battle of a lifetime. He spent 18 days in a coma, and has endured 5 brain surgeries.
Nearly 4 years later, an artificial skull covers half of Antonio’s brain, because a seizure causing a fall could otherwise be fatal.
Antonio not only battles seizures, but migraines, balance issues, spells and more. In October of 2016, Antonio was paired with his Service Dog, Alice from Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs in Florida. His Mom, Tara says, “Alice is a hero in our eyes, because without her, Antonio would not be able to do the simple things in life that we take for granted”.
Going to school, the store, or even just a walk outside would be impossible for him. Never once has Alice failed to alert to an oncoming seizure or “spell”, and she assists him with his balance issues. Alice has given Antonio the chance at a new normal life he couldn’t have had without her. She is a loyal and loving hero everyday. She’s saved Antonio’s life many times. If that’s not a hero, I don’t know what is. She is his Guardian Angel, and helps him live his New Normal to the fullest extend possible”.
Leader Dog Lady
I’m Legally Blind, Leader Dog Lady is my Guide Dog. My world has changed so much since Lady came into my life, Leader Dog Lady is my eyes, she guides me to wherever I need to go or do. We go on a plane once or twice a year, I love life because I have Leader Dog Lady by my side, I’m more independent and much more confident in myself. I see the world through Leader Dog Lady’s eyes and it’s a world where I set goals for us to do, for the year, Friends and family always ask, so what’s Leader Dog Lady and your adventures going to be??? My life is busy because of Lady. We educate about Leader Dogs for the Blind, go to Lions Club Conventions to promote Leader Dogs for the Blind. We attend big events and fundraisers for this wonderful Organization. July will be our 4 year anniversary as a team, Leader Dog Lady loves to work and I feel safe crossing busy intersections, getting on a plane, walking 3 miles, she goes to work with me and my co-workers love her. There is nothing we can’t do, Leader Dog Lady is so smart and she’s very beautiful Black Lab. When out in public people are looking at Leader Dog Lady and not asking me a ton of questions about my vision, because of Lady I’m more social and more comfortable being out in public, people ask me questions about Leader Dog Lady’s job! I love and trust her more than people. To be a good working team that is very important. So I am nominating Leader Dog Lady for Hero Dog, she is my HERO!!
Search and Rescue
Piglet, best friend of Winnie The Pooh. But, there’s another “Piglet” in town. An 8-year-old Catahoula Leopard Dog. This Piglet, veteran Search & Rescue dog, is trained & certified to help families in arduous times.
Nothing could have prepared Piglet & handler Lori Wells for the inconceivable conditions on a recent deployment. Called to aid in the aftermath of the horrific “Camp Fire” in Paradise, California. One of many volunteers, this little dog deployed to do all she could to help.
Piglet provides a vital service. Her help to bring answers to grieving families is immeasurable. She assists to locate people on land & in water. Once, human searchers spent 7 days combing a lake with no luck. On day 8, Piglet deployed & located the subject. She has helped the coroner by locating enough bones to reconstruct & positively identify the individual.
Lori & Piglet dedicate 100’s of volunteer hours annually & depart for each call-out with enthusiasm. Traveling 1,000’s of miles a year does not diminish Piglet’s bubbly personality & happy-go-lucky attitude. In her off hours she loves making friends. At PR events she’s always a crowd-pleaser with a wagging tail, signature “smile” & endless kisses.
Perhaps this is what makes Piglet a unique Search & Rescue dog. Her namesake shared advice appropriate for those survivors this dedicated K9 helps reunite… “If there ever comes a time when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.”
Cary, North Carolina
Sergeant Yeager honorably performed combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Improvised Explosive Detection Dog with the USMC. Yeager has been credited with detecting the locations of dozens of explosive devices. During his three combat tours, Yeager participated in over 100 patrols, and was tasked with clearing routes for his fellow Marines. On April 12, 2012, Yeager suffered shrapnel wounds from an IED that caused him to lose part of his ear. He was awarded the Purple Heart for his injuries. Unfortunately, the same explosion took the life of his handler, Lance Cpl. Abraham Tarwoe. The pair was virtuously trying to protect the other Marines in the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Fellow Marines attest to the unbreakable bond between Tarwoe and Yeager. After the attack, Yeager was transported back to the U.S. and treated for his injuries until he was stable enough to retire from the USMC. Tarwoe’s widow was unable to adopt Yeager as she would now be raising their infant son alone. Yeager was adopted by another Marine Corps family. Today, Yeager at 12 years of age is beginning to show signs of aging, though his spirit is undiminished. Despite his trials and being witness to acts of terrorism, Yeager remains a sweet dog with an infinitely joyful disposition. He has settled in North Carolina with his family, where he is an ambassador for the Project K-9 Hero Foundation, which pays 100% of his medical bills from his sustained injuries.
Law Enforcement and Detection
Dax began his successful career with the Lake County (IL) Sheriff’s Office almost four years ago. He has been directly responsible for tracking and successfully apprehending over 70 suspects. Dax has also been accountable for tracking and finding dozens of missing or endangered children and adults. Dax has been used for over 100 narcotic searches resulting in over 17 kilos of cocaine, heroin and other narcotics seized, hundreds of pounds of cannabis, approximately three quarters of a million dollars in currency, dozens of firearms, and seized vehicles.
Dax’s top deployments in 2018 included tracking and locating a dangerous domestic violence offender who forced his way into a home and then battered and choked a woman until she lost consciousness; capturing a robbery suspect even after the offender struck Dax repeatedly; and, apprehending a wanted fugitive (who was allegedly armed) hiding in the attic of a home covered in fiberglass insulation.
Dax saved the lives of citizens and deputies in late 2018 when he tracked a fugitive who had allegedly committed a burglary, was in the process of stealing a vehicle from its owner, and then brandished a gun at pursuing deputies. The fugitive was charged with attempted murder and several other felonies after being located by Dax.
Dax’s tireless drive, dedication to training, love for police work, and incredible success stories have gained him thousands of supporters from across the country. Dax has proven to be an outstanding K9 hero!
Lake Charles, Louisiana
This three-legged rescue went from being homeless and crippled to becoming a certified therapy dog. Jeanie was rescued from a rural area in south Louisiana when she was five months old and was adopted after a deformed front leg was removed by a local vet. Jeanie works for the Children’s Advocacy Center, where she comforts children who are questioned by detectives in physical and sexual abuse cases, violent crimes, and even homicides. She and her owner volunteer at hospitals, schools, nursing homes, reading programs, and veterans’ homes, where Jeanie bonds with fellow amputees.
Jeanie attends counseling sessions with amputees and children’s grief therapy groups. She comforts students during finals week and visits schools’ special education classes. Jeanie spent a day with traumatized elementary students who witnessed a shooting in their classroom. She helped an apprehensive child speak to officers after witnessing a murder/suicide. A depressed veterans’ home resident, who suffered with dementia, was joyful & content during a visit with Jeanie. In cases like these, Jeanie’s presence eases stress levels and provides a calm and joyful diversion.
Jeanie deserves to be the American Hero Dog because she gives love and comfort to those who need it most, especially frightened and traumatized children. She hopes to inspire other counseling, advocacy and law enforcement agencies to consider the benefits of therapy dogs like her.
Gus was found walking aimlessly down a busy street with a head so severely swollen, you couldn’t tell he was a dog. It was a shoe lace tied so tight that it sliced through his flesh into his neck almost to the bone. Through his recovery he gained thousands of well wishers from all over the country and other countries as well. He brought attention to the plight of the homeless animals and how they suffer.
His good nature and compliance through all his very difficult procedures and surgeries has given people hope and something to cheer for. He has been the glue for people from all over the world who look to him for some good in this very caustic and seemingly uncaring climate. His innocence and sweetness transcends cultural differences and indifference to the homeless dog crisis in Houston and other cities facing the same situation.
Because of him and his message more people are fostering and adopting dogs from shelters, they are stopping to help the stray dog that is only looking for something to eat and a gentle touch. People are taking notice and getting more involved animal welfare. I believe Gus came to us with a specific purpose and mission. He is the tender soul who opens hearts and helps people know that there are more Gus’ out there who are just as special as he is. That we all can do something to help and not just turn away.