PRNewswire - Heroes are not judged merely by their size, but by the size of their hearts.
Following more than a million votes by the American public and the opinions of an expert panel of celebrity animal lovers and dog experts, a tiny Chihuahua named Harley has been named this year's most courageous canine and biggest dog star, beating out 170 other heroic hounds and capturing the top title of "American Hero Dog" at the 2015 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards.
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 rescue missions, and there is no doubt 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 also makes public appearances at events and schools where he gladly accepts love and attention from everyone.
Harley's battered appearance is a testament to the neglect and rough treatment he experienced, leading to 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 his missing eye – the result of his cage being power-washed with him in it. All of these conditions were the result of years of horrendous neglect and abuse.
To change this reality, Harley is a voice for the countless breeding dogs still living in puppy mills around the country. As a result of his work, Harley won the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards' Emerging Hero Dogs category, for "ordinary" dogs who do extraordinary things.
The Hero Dog Awards were created to celebrate the powerful relationship between dogs and people and recognize extraordinary acts of heroism performed by ordinary dogs. The event will be broadcast nationwide by Hallmark Channel on October 30 at 8 pm ET/PT, 7 pm Central.
"The American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards were created to honor some of the most extraordinary heroes the world has ever known, the very best of our best friends," said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association.
"These courageous canines have gone above and beyond the call of duty, saving lives on the battlefield, comforting the ill, aged and afflicted, bringing hope to those who have lost it and reminding us of the powerful, age-old bond between animals and people. Choosing a top dog is difficult because they are all so terrific, but we are proud to announce Harley as the top American Hero Dog for 2015. We hope that Harley's story will inspire people to shut down puppy mills once and for all."
Harley was the one chosen as 2015 American Hero Dog, but all eight finalists were winners in their categories. To read more about each of the finalists, visit http://www.herodogawards.org/vote.php
Image via AmericanHumane.org