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Tag: ceremony

Pit bull wins national “hero dog” award

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Elle, a 5-year-old pit bull who helps children become more confident about reading, has been named the 2103 Hero Dog by the American Humane Association.

But it wasn’t just her listening skills that won her the honor. She also helps teach children about dog safety, and overcoming prejudice and stereotypes – “something a pit bull knows too much about,” the association noted in announcing the award.

The therapy dog and her owner started a reading program called “Tail Wagging Tales”  that helps students at two North Carolina schools — Vaughan Elementary in Macon and Chaloner Middle School in Roanoke Rapids — become stronger readers. Students take turns reading out loud to Elle for 20 minutes.

“She provides confidence for students and a comforting ear,” Leah Brewer, 42, told TODAY.com.

Elle and the other finalists for the American Humane Association award attended a ceremony Saturday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. It will air as a 90-minute special on the Hallmark Channel on Oct. 30.

After a six-month natonwide search, 141 dogs from across the country were nominated. More than one million Americans cast votes for the eight finalists online. Those results, along with the choices of a panel of celebrity judges and animals activists, were combined to determine the winner.

Among other nominees were Carlos, an explosive detector dog who worked in Iraq and Afghanistan; John D, a rescue dog who uses his scenting capabilities to detect cancer in patients; Cassidy, a three-legged dog who visits rehabilitation centers to comfort children with disabilities; and Lola, a rescued guide dog who connects her deaf owner to the surrounding world.

“Choosing a top dog is difficult because they are all so terrific, but we are proud to announce Elle as the top American Hero Dog for 2013,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association.

“As an organization that for years has fought breed-specific legislation (BSL), we are also pleased to honor a breed that has been often been unjustly maligned. We hope that Elle’s story will help to underscore the many tremendously positive qualities of this breed.”

(Photo: American Humane Association)

A Penny saved is an honor earned

Even more than we love his name …  Americus Rambeau … we love what the Baltimore police officer did on Dec. 29, 2010 — namely, jump into the icy waters of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor to rescue a dog named Penny.

“She was happy to have somebody to hang onto,” he was quoted as saying after saving the dog’s life.

Aren’t we all.

On Jan. 26, at noon, the Baltimore Humane Society (BHS) will honor Rambeau and three other members of the Baltimore Police Department’s Marine Unit for their rescue of Penny, a black lab mix who ran out of her Federal Hill home, across Key Highway and into the harbor.

The ceremony will take place at the shelter building on the grounds of BHS.  The event is open to the public.

Rambeau, along with Sergeant Michael Kain, Officer William Edgar and Officer  John Wagner, arrived by boat to save Penny. She avoided them at first, but once Rambeau was in the water, she allowed him to get close enough to help her.

Once ashore, Penny was treated for “cold-water exposure and hypothermia,” said a spokesman for the BPD Marine Unit.

Penny’s owner, Rachel Naumann, was at work when her roommate opened the front door to sign for a package and Penny, who’s about a year old, got out and headed straight for the harbor, possibly in pursuit of a seagull.

Rambeau, who has multiple cats, told the Baltimore Sun he didn’t hesitate to jump in the water for Penny. He has done the same thing for other dogs, cats, deer and, in 1998, a 79-year-old man.

Naumann picked Penny up from the shelter the next morning, happily paying a $95 fee to pay to reclaim her pet.

“I’m just happy she’s back,” she said.

(Baltimore Sun photos by Kim Hairston)

Vick coming to Baltimore for Block award

News that Michael Vick is expected to attend the 32nd annual Ed Block Courage Awards dinner in Baltimore Tuesday has led to a change in the ceremony’s format and an increase in security.

Vick, who was convicted in 2007 of running a dogfighting ring, is one of 32 winners to be honored with the award, which singles out one member of each NFL team for his courage, sportsmanship and inspiration to his community.

Vick’s unanimous selection by his Philadelphia Eagles teammates triggered angry e-mails to the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation, a petition drive and a planned protest by dog lovers and animal welfare activists at the award’s ceremony, to be held at Martin’s West, 6817 Dogwood Road, from 4 to 10 p.m.

More than 100 people have already signed up to protest at the event — a number that could grow as a result of the news that the quarterback will be attending.

In addition to scrapping the long-standing tradition of having the athletes mingle with fans and sign autographs,  organizers say they are boosting security, according to the Baltimore Sun.

“We’ve put in place enough [guards] to make sure that our players are safe and that everything runs smoothly.”said Ed Block Courage Award Foundation spokesman Paul Mittermeier.

The Block Award is named for a former team trainer of the Baltimore Colts, who worked for years to help abused children.

 Criticism for bestowing the award on Vick has come from groups ranging from animal rights activists to the American Kennel Club. “It is unconscionable that a man who tortured and abused helpless animals be honored by an organization dedicated to ending abuse,” the AKC said.

Vick will be accompanied to the event by Michael Markarian, chief operating officer of the Humane Society of the United States,  a group for which the quarterback has made public appearances in recent months, attempting to steer youth away from dogfighting.

The story behind the dramatic photos

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This happened way back in August, but since the dramatic photos are now making the email rounds — without attribution, photo credit or any citation of the original source —  we thought we’d show you what happened when gale force winds blew a Maltese-Shih-tzu named Bi Bi off of Brighton Pier in Victoria, Australia.

1The unleashed dog splashed into the choppy waters as owner Sue Drummond looked on.  “I thought he was going to sink and then maybe I wouldn’t be able to find him,” she told the Herald Sun. “I didn’t really want to hop in the water either because I wasn’t quite sure if I could make it to shore with a struggling dog.”

Raden Soemawinata — on the pier for a family ceremony to scatter his grandmother’s ashes into the bay, showed no such hesitation. He stripped down to shirt and underwear and dived in after the dog: 

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“It was pretty cold and windy, but it wasn’ such a hard decision to jump in, it wasn’t such a great feat,” Soemawinata, 20, said. “I’m a part-time model, so getting into my jocks isn’t so different to what I do for work.”The photos were taken by Chris Scott, and originally appeared in the Herald Sun in Australia.

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Again, it’s old news, but given we missed it the first time around, and the photos have bobbed up to the surface again, we thought both the photographer, the rescuer, and Bi Bi deserved to be more than anonymous.

Keeping abreast with Newt’s Nook

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We’re proud to unofficially unveil the sign that will welcome visitors to “Newt’s Nook — A Home for Pitbulls.”

Now under construction in Celina, Texas, the shelter was made possible by a $5,000-plus donation from a Dallas strip club owner — the amount being a refund of what she paid to attend a dinner to receive an “Entrepreneur of the Year” award from Newt Gingrich’s organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future.

American Solutions, as we told you yesterday, mistakenly bestowed the honor on Dawn Rizos, the owner of The Lodge, a popular Dallas strip club.

When former Speaker of the House Gingrich, a week before the awards ceremony, uninvited Rizos, he agreed to refund the $5,000 that she, as instructed, had submitted in exchange for the privilege of eating dinner with him. He refunded her airfare as well.

“At first our feelings were hurt,” Rizos said. “But then we figured at least we could make something positive out of his bad manners.”

About the same time Rizos got her refund, she heard that Animal Guardians of America had an urgent need for a heated and  air-conditioned shelter for rescue dogs, primarily pit bulls, at its sanctuary in Celina.

“We do a lot of charitable work and we love animal rescue groups,” Ms. Rizos said. “The cost was about the same as the amount Newt sent back to us, so we decided to do something good with it.”

The formal dedication for Newt’s Nook is scheduled for early November.

“We’re sorry that Dawn was treated so unfairly,” said Annette Lambert, director of the Animal Guardians chapter in North Texas. “But this will be great for a lot of wonderful dogs. I hope Newt will stop by sometime to see what we’ve built in his name.”

Rizos says Gingrich is invited to the opening, as well as to The Lodge, which describes itself as “the country’s best-known and most-honored gentlemen’s club,” and one that has “set national standards for elegance and integrity, and helps hundreds of people support their families and improve their lives.”

“He’s always welcome at The Lodge,” Ms. Rizos said. “We don’t hold a grudge. And we still have a lot to talk about.”

(Photo:  The sign, created by The Lodge bartender Bryan Callaway, that will welcome pit bulls to their new shelter; courtesy of Mike Precker)