The American Humane Hero Dog Awards® is an annual, nationwide competition that searches out and recognizes America’s Hero Dogs – often ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things, whether it’s saving lives on the battlefield, lending sight or hearing to a human companion, or helping people achieve their goals. Dogs compete in seven different categories for the Hero Dog Awards:

  • Law Enforcement and Detection Dogs – Law enforcement dogs’ ability to help protect their human handlers, thwart lawbreakers and find evidence makes them true partners to first responders, and these four-footed heroes are often considered law enforcement officers in their communities. Dogs have ultra-sensitive hearing, keen noses and can accurately detect a variety of targets. Detection dogs are used to detect illicit substances, drugs, fire accelerants, firearms or explosives that may be carried on a person in their effects or may be located at a crime scene. Dogs have also been shown to identify flora and fauna and a multitude of diseases in humans, including new training programs for infectious diseases like COVID-19. This Category seeks to bring well-deserved recognition to the heroes who do so much to protect our nation and keep us safe.
  • Service Dogs – Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks for people with disabilities as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act other than vision or hearing impairment (see Guide/Hearing category.) They can be trained to retrieve objects, assist with balance, detect seizure or diabetic alerts, or assist those with psychiatric disabilities.
  • Therapy Dogs – Credentialed Animal-Assisted Therapy dogs are part of a therapeutic plan to aid with physical, social, emotional and cognitive challenges for persons other than the dog’s owner/handler. Therapy dogs work to enhance the lives of people in need, visiting schools, hospitals, veteran centers and beyond.
  • Military Dogs – Military dogs play an active role in searching for explosives and seizing enemies on our battlefields, and have partnered with our troops since World War I. Active duty and retired military dogs are honored for their courageous sacrifices to our country.
  • Search and Rescue Dogs – Search and rescue dog teams play a vital role in locating missing persons from accidents, natural disasters and more. These dogs are trained to use their keen sense of smell, night vision and endurance to help locate missing persons and return them home safely to their families.
  • Guide/Hearing Dogs – Guide and hearing dogs are the “eyes and ears” for millions of visual and hearing-impaired people, and they are specifically trained to assist by leading, obeying commands, avoiding distractions, retrieving items, alerting to danger and more. These remarkable dogs are often credited by their human handler with providing them independence and freedom.
  • Shelter Dogs – With millions of dogs in shelters and on the streets in the U.S., many of the most amazing stories come from the heartfelt second chance accounts of shelter and rescue dogs who are given a new “leash” on life and go on to become heroes to those around them. A shelter or rescue dog can be nominated for doing heroic deeds, large or small; for overcoming difficult odds and achieving heroic status; or by having a remarkable rescue story. Dogs eligible for the Shelter category can be adopted from a rescue organization or shelter, rescued from the streets or homelessness, or saved from unfavorable situations.

After voting by the American public, winners in each category are honored at the star-studded American Humane Hero Dog Awards gala in Palm Beach.

Founded in 1877, American Humane is committed to ensuring the safety, welfare and well-being of animals. Our leadership programs are first to serve in promoting and nurturing the bonds between animals and humans. You can help make a difference – learn how by visiting www.americanhumane.org today.



We would like to thank our incredible celebrity Ambassadors for their support and work towards creating a more humane world! Our Ambassadors are champions for the humane movement and they are passionate about strengthening the human-animal bond.

Adrienne Maloof
Alison Sweeney
Bailee Madison
Barbara Niven
Carolyn Hennesy
Danielle Fishel
Lisa Vanderpump
Carrie Ann Inaba