More than a million Americans voted on their favorite ‘Hero Dog’ finalist this year—and after a deliberating VIP panel of dog experts and judges, the winner was crowned at the American Humane Hero Dog Awards gala in Palm Beach, Florida this month.
A four-year-old hound mix named Boone from Butler, Pennsylvania, took home the top prize.
Boone, who survived heartbreaking treatment as a puppy, bested more than 400 other competitors from across the country to win the award. Finalists from 7 categories went head-to-head collecting votes from the public—Law Enforcement / Detection Dogs, Service Dogs, Military Dogs, Search & Rescue Dogs, Shelter Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs, and, Therapy Dogs, which was Boone’s category.
Boone’s two back legs had to be amputated after the initial abuse, and he was fostered by a family with a soft spot for special needs pets. “He was calm as calm could be,” said Tanya Diable, his foster mom, who was so moved by the pup that she adopted him two days later.
Boone’s family had him fitted with a wheelchair to improve his mobility, which immediately changed him. Charley Diable said it was the first time he ever wagged his tail—and he’s been a dog on a mission ever since. “The light bulb just clicked,” says Tanya. “He was amazing after that.”
The hound’s sweet nature and enthusiasm for life made him perfect for earning a certificate to become a therapy dog. He now goes to children’s hospitals and wherever he is need to help reduce stress in others.
Boone is also an ambassador for the nonprofit Joey’s P.A.W. (Prosthetics and Wheels), which has provided mobility devices to more than 700 dogs in need in Pittsburgh, across the country and globally.
Boone is also helping to erase perceptions around disabled dogs and their adoptability.
“The American Humane Hero Dog Awards were created to honor some of the world’s most extraordinary heroes, as well as celebrate the powerful relationship between dogs and people,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane, America’s first national humane organization, which holds the Hero Dog Awards annually.
“These courageous canines have gone above and beyond the call of duty, saving lives on the battlefield, comforting the ill and aged, and reminding us of the powerful, age-old bond between animals and people.”