New York, NY – The AKC® Humane Fund has announced the winners of the 16th annual AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE). These awards commemorate five loyal, hard-working dogs that have significantly impacted the lives of their owners and people in their communities.
One award is presented in each of the following five categories: Uniformed Service K-9, Service, Therapy, Search and Rescue and Exemplary Companion dog. This year’s winners include a Military Working Dog that protects Presidents, a Great Dane that helps his young owner walk, a therapy dog that comforts military members and their loved ones, a human remains detection dog that brings closure to families and a show dog that serves as an ambassador for purebred dogs.
“Whether they serve as uniformed service, search and rescue, therapy, service, or exemplary companion dogs, each ACE nomination we receive is a testimony to the loyalty, devotion and strength dogs give to us,” said AKC Spokesperson Gina DiNardo. “Each dog’s devotion to their work and the impact they make in their community is an inspiration to dog lovers everywhere.”
All of the ACE recipients will receive $1,000 to be awarded to a pet-related charity of their choice, a one year pet insurance policy from Pet Partners, Inc. and an engraved sterling silver medallion to be presented at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in Orlando, Florida on Saturday and Sunday, December 12-13, 2015.
This year’s ACE winners are:
Uniformed Service K-9: “Pablo,” a Belgian Malinois handled by Greg Madrid of Albany, Georgia
“K9 Pablo” is a nine-year-old Belgian Malinois Military Working Dog (MWD), who is a certified PEDD (Patrol/Explosive Detection Dog) by the US Air Force, and is assigned to the Marine Corps Police Department in Albany, Georgia. Pablo regularly serves on Secret Service details for visiting dignitaries. In the past year, Pablo has provided protection for President Obama, Vice President Biden, Former President Clinton and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Pablo also regularly attends Sunday morning church service at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia to help protect Former President Carter while he teaches Bible Study. Pablo participates in nearly every career day at the local schools, and many non-profit and charity events in his local community.
Service Dog: “George,” a Great Dane owned by Rachel Burton of Woburn, Massachusetts
“George” comes from the Service Dog Project, which trains dogs to help the mobility impaired. The Great Dane was paired with Bella, a 10-year-old girl with a rare genetic disorder called Morquio Syndrome. This disorder makes mobility exceptionally difficult and requires Bella to undergo many operations. Before she met George, Bella used a wheelchair or crutches to move around, but George has given Bella the strength and determination to walk and take part in activities she otherwise would not have been able to do. George and Bella have an inseparable bond and he will do anything for her. He has helped her gain confidence, independence and happiness.
Therapy Dog: “Wynd,” a Rottweiler owned by Renice Zimmerman of Yorktown, Virginia
For her owner Renice, “Wynd” is an once-in-a-lifetime therapy dog. Wynd has served on the therapy dog team for military surviving family members at The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) National Seminar in DC for the past three Memorial Days and has volunteered at the Survivor Outreach Service booth at military events many times. Wynd is also a regular at the Hampton Veterans Hospital Domiciliary program, interacting and working closely with veterans with PTSD and substance abuse, and visits at the assisted living center at the VA hospital as well. During the school year, Wynd visits Suffolk Humane Society’s BARKS reading program, encouraging a love of reading and helping many kids overcome their fear of dogs.
Search and Rescue Dog: “Ty,” a German Shepherd Dog handled by Melissa Frye of Southport, Florida
“Ty,” officially known as K-9 Ty Ty Road RN CGC, is an eight-year-old German Shepherd Dog trained in human remains detection. Over the span of his six year career, Ty has become the go-to K-9 in his department for recovery searches, helping to bring closure to families that have lost loved ones. He has been deployed on over 60 missions with great success, particularly in his specialty of water recovery. Ty is also cross-trained for live find search and disaster work, and serves as the Bay County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue public relations dog. He’s a natural with all ages and eats up the attention he gets after putting on demonstrations.
Exemplary Companion Dog: “Mufasa,” a Bernese Mountain Dog owned by Kristen and Robin Greenwood of Bel Air, Maryland
“Mufasa,” who won Best of Breed at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2014, is as an ambassador to his breed, purebred dogs and the American Kennel Club. This Bernese Mountain Dog greets visitors to his owners’ dog wash business (where he has a regular fan club) and his presence alone helps the local community to learn about AKC and responsible breeders. As a well-trained, excellent example of his breed, Mufasa helps to open the lines of communication about responsible breeders, and how these breeders are great ways to add a healthy and happy dog to the family. While some may have negative impressions of the dog show world and the life of an AKC show dog, Mufasa shows them that most “show dogs” are first and foremost well-loved family companions.
Read more about all of the ACE Award winners here.