Susie from High Point, North Carolina, the country’s top therapy dog, a pit bull mix, who overcame a terrible ordeal but went on to bring hope to both people and animals, has been named this year’s “American Hero Dog”. The 2014 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™, was presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc. and will broadcast nationally on Hallmark Channel October 30 at 8 pm ET/PT, 7 pm Central Time.
The life of Susie started out tragically. But through this tragedy her present human companion was able to get a release from her own horrific event. Susie was only a puppy when her owner beat her savagely and set her on fire, leaving her for dead in a local park in Greensboro, North Carolina. Nursed back to health at the local animal shelter, she was adopted by Donna Lawrence, who had been the victim of a terrible dog attack that nearly killed her and left her without the ability to have children. The assisted each other to heal and helped to pass “Susie’s Law” in North Carolina, which calls for harsher penalties for convicted animal abusers. They both now team up to visit hospitals, schools, and nursing homes to inspire people never to give up.
There also was the first-ever American Humane Association Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards™, presented by Zoetis, an animal health company. By popular vote, Eva DeCozio, DVM, of the VCA Apache Junction clinic in Higley, Arizona was named 2014’s American Hero Veterinarian, and Signe Corbin of the Westlake Animal Hospital in Austin, Texas was declared 2014’s American Hero Veterinary Technician.
Dr. DeCozio works at a clinic at the edge of a low-income neighborhood. She is the co-founder of Panacea Animal Wellness Sanctuary (PAWS), a non-profit animal welfare organization that “exists to create a community in which there is no unnecessary animal euthanasia.” She has given hundreds a second chance on life.
Signe Corbin co-founded Pug Rescue of Austin (PRA) in 2009 and continues to serve as the medical director of this thriving nonprofit organization. More than 600 dogs that have been rescued receive the best medical care available. Corbin also hosts an annual “Pug Tune-up” fundraising event, during which she and her fellow vet techs provide nail trims and ear cleanings to generate thousands of dollars in donations for PRA.
The event will be broadcast nationwide by Hallmark Channel on October 30 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. Wilson Phillips provided the lead musical performances. It was hosted at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on September 27 by television and film star James Denton and model and animal advocate Beth Stern, accompanied by presenters including Bruce Boxleitner, Lacey Chabert, Philippe and Ashlan Gorse Cousteau, Cristina Ferrare, Lori Loughlin, Bailee Madison, Kellie Martin, Marlee Matlin, Brandon McMillan, Larry Miller, Barbara Niven, Pauley Perrette, Charlotte Ross, Mark Steines and Victoria Stilwell.
Each of the eight finalists received $1,500 to be donated to one of American Humane Association’s charity partners. Susie won an additional $5,000 for her charity, Paws & Effect.