Why should purebred dogs get all the opportunity to be crowned winners? There’s another contest you should check out—and you can vote in it, too.

By Dan Nosowitz
August 05, 2019

When you think of dog shows, you probably think of the Westminster Kennel Club. But that show rewards dogs based on arcane rules about ideal breeding characteristics, and there are so many other ways to acknowledge the greatness of dogs. An upcoming show focuses not on coat shininess or perfect markings, but on what these dogs have accomplished.

The Hero Dog Awards is put on by American Humane, not to be confused with the Humane Society; American Humane is best known for making sure no animals are harmed on the sets of television shows and movies. The Hero Dog Awards aims to reward dogs that have bestowed humans with extraordinary acts of service. Within the categories of eligibility are law enforcement dogs, service dogs, therapy dogs, search and rescue dogs, guide dogs, and even shelter dogs.

A field of 360 nominees was filtered down to seven finalists, which include a three-legged service dog named Jeanie, an explosive detection dog named Yeager (he’s a sergeant in the Army), and Alice, a service dog who helps a young boy live a normal life.

The show is an attempt to bring attention to the dogs who maybe don’t receive the level of attention that purebred dogs do. According to the Humane Society, about 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized each year. Besides providing a mixed-breed dog with a loving, much-needed home, there's another benefit to adopting a pet from a shelter: health. Studies have found that many genetic disorders, including cataracts, epilepsy, and lymphoma, are more common in purebred dogs. 

As anyone who has ever owned a mutt will tell you, perfection can come in all kinds of forms. A show like the Hero Dog Awards is a refreshing twist, noting that service, perseverance, and empathy can come from anywhere. The awards show will air on the Hallmark Channel on October 23rd at 8 p.m. as part of the channel’s adoption initiative. And best of all, you can actually cast your vote for the Hero Dog Awards until September 9th!

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