The American Humane Association recently honored eight amazing dogs during their annual Hero Dog Awards, recognizing them for the brave ways they have made a difference in the world.

Emerging Hero

Meet Hooch the French Mastiff who won the Emerging Hero Award. Hooch overcame astounding odds when saved by Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue as he was only 35 pounds, dehydrated, malnourished and missing his tongue when rescued. Rescuers believe Hooch’s tongue was removed to use him as a bait dog in dog fights. Amazingly, through all this Hooch has managed to preserve his trust in people and his love for life. Today he is hand fed and works as a therapy dog with special needs and abused children.

Arson Dog

Judge spends his days working with the Allentown Fire Department in Pennsylvania as a fire scene investigator. Throughout his career, Judge has worked on 275 fire scenes. During that time Judge found valuable evidence that has led to numerous arson and insurance fraud arrests. The impact of his work in the fire department has helped lead to a 52.7 percent decrease in arson fires in the Allentown area. Judge also participates in fire safety programs at local schools and crime watch groups.

Law Enforcement Dog

Edo is a K-9 that proved what makes a hero. On January 1, 2016, Edo and his human partner, Officer Huynh, were pursuing two suspects wanted for robbery and murder. During the pursuit, one of the suspects entered a home and began firing a gun at the father and three children inside, shooting two of the children. Edo entered the home and saved the lives of the innocent family by engaging the suspect. Edo’s engagement created a distraction that drew the suspect’s attention away from the family.

Service Dog

Gander and his handler Lon Hodge are raising awareness about PTSD, veteran suicide and the world of both visible and invisible disabilities. The pair has traveled to 36 states to date raising money for veterans groups and service dog charities. Gander and Hodge sponsored the first service dog education conference in the country with a portion of the funds raised. In addition to his Hero Dog Award, Gander is the first mixed breed dog to win the prestigious American Kennel Club’s Award of Canine Excellence for his extensive work as a service dog ambassador.

Search and Rescue Dog

Kobuk is a very special and dedicated dog whose keen nose helped save the life of a 77 year old woman suffering from diabetes and dementia who was near death after she had gone missing in the woods of Maine for several days. Kobuk, a certified search and rescue dog, was brought in to help on the third day of searching. He was able to locate the missing woman by picking up her scent from a fifth of a mile away. Having gone 48 hours in the woods with no food, water, medicine or shelter, Kobuk found the missing women just in time. Thanks to Kobuk’s expedient work, she is safe and has made a full recovery.

Military Dog

In 2012, Layka took four bullets for her team who came under fire at an enemy compound in Afghanistan. Layka, who was sent in after the attack to look for injured combatants, ended up engaging an enemy who shot her four times in the shoulder. After being rescued from the building, she was extracted to Germany for surgery in which her right front leg was removed during the operation. Layka is as active and involved as ever as the incident has not slowed her in the least.

Guide/Hearing Dog

Hook is a 12-lb. hearing dog who provides comfort to others while providing protection and assistance to his owner every moment. Hook has saved his owner from an oncoming train she did not hear and from an intruder. Often times Hook provides comfort to the family therapy clients of his owner when they become emotional during therapy sessions.

Therapy Dog

Mango was a four-year-old homeless dog scheduled for euthanasia due to paralyzed back legs when she was saved by a rescue group from the kill shelter system. Eventually she was placed with an organization that pairs disabled veterans with disabled dogs with the goal of encouraging the vets to live a full life by showing them how handicapped dogs overcome their disabilities. Mango is also an inspiration and help to other animals and pet owners through her program Mango’s Freedom Wheels which aids in the purchase of wheelchairs for pets in need.

The article “Meet the Most Heroic Dogs of 2016” was reported in People Magazine Pets on October 4, 2016.