USA: Therapy Dog Recognized as National Service Canine of the Year

(17.10.2006) PEDIGREE(R) 'Paws to Recognize'(TM) Program Spotlights the Contributions of the Country's Thousands of Working Dogs

With more than 70,000 votes cast this year, the 2006 winner in the Paws to Recognize program answers to a name that's certainly apropos: Hero, a Labrador Retriever and former shelter animal from Albany, Georgia, who serves as a therapy dog for the Delta Society, took home top honors in the national contest that pays homage to the country's more than 15,000 thousand service dogs.

Because of their love of dogs, PEDIGREE(R) Food for Dogs created the Paws to Recognize program, with support from Wal-Mart, to shine a spotlight on the working dogs that lend helping hands and perform acts of heroism on a daily basis. Five exceptional nominees were identified and featured on , with the decision left up to the public to cast a vote for their favorite. Voting was open from April - mid-July and once tallied, it was clear that Hero came out on top.

"As the brand that loves dogs, we are proud to honor this year's Paws to Recognize Canine of the Year, Hero, as well as all of our outstanding canine nominees," said Rob Liebowitz, Marketing Director, Dog Portfolio, Masterfoods USA, the makers of PEDIGREE Food for Dogs. "Service dogs are unsung heroes, helping to enrich the lives of people and entire communities each day. This program is dedicated to showcasing the heroic jobs these service dogs do each and every day as a way to thank them for their contributions."

Hero captured the hearts of the voting public because of the work he performs as a therapy dog. As part of the Paws Patrol, a program associated with the Delta Society Pet Partners, he makes regular visits to patients at hospitals, hospices, nursing homes and other health facilities. His loving and caring disposition was the inspiration for "Project Hero," a program that provides young people living in a youth detention center the opportunity to care for, train and socialize homeless pets to make them better adoption candidates.

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