2016 American Humane Hero Dog Awards.
Hooch is a dog with badly cropped ears, a broken tail, and a bright spirit. Zach Skow, of Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue, learned about him from a shelter in Bakersfield, which told him Hooch would not eat or drink, instead thrashing his food and water bowls around "like a maniac."
He was 35 pounds underweight, starving and dehydrated, and they thought that a broken or dislocated jaw was causing his behavior. But when he was taken to the vet and sedated for x-raying, a gruesome discovery was made: Hooch's tongue had been savagely removed at its base, likely in an attempt to prime him for the role of a bait dog. Hooch kept removing his feeding tube, but fortunately took well to being hand-fed, tilting his head back while food was placed in the back of his throat, and letting gravity do the work.
Despite the terrible injuries inflicted on him by people, Hooch is a heroic example of bravery, overcoming, and forgiveness. He now works with Marley's Mutts' Miracle Mutts division serving as a therapy dog for abused, autistic, and special needs children, helping them with great gentleness, patience and kindness.
For his extraordinary bravery and good works, Hooch won the American Humane Hero Dog Awards' "Emerging Hero Dog" category. 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 28 at 8 pm ET/PT, 7 pm Central. The program will air as part of Hallmark Channel's Pet Project, the network's cross-platform advocacy campaign designed to celebrate the joy and enrichment animals bring to our lives.
"The American Humane 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, the country's first national humane organization.
"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. All eight category winners tonight exemplify what it means to be a hero, and we hope that their stories – and Hooch's – will inspire people to value our animal friends and to recognize and honor how much they do for us every day."
Hooch was the one chosen as 2016 American Hero Dog, but all eight finalists were winners in their categories and recognized for their courage, service and compassion. To read more, click here.