Following the ESPN broadcast of the popular special, AKC Heroes: 2021 Awards for Canine Excellence on ESPN2, the AKC is delighted to share this year’s AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE) winners. These annual awards celebrate loyal and hardworking dogs who have significantly improved the lives of their owners and / or communities.
Five Outstanding Dogs were selected as this year’s winners in their respective categories from a pool of nearly 1,000 nominations. The five award categories include: Exemplary Companion, Search and Rescue, Assistance Dog, Therapy Dog, and K-9 Uniform Service.
“It’s no surprise that these five wonderful dogs were selected as this year’s ACE winners,” said Gina DiNardo, Executive Secretary of the American Kennel Club. “Each of their unique stories is a testament to the countless ways dogs impact our daily lives. We’re honored to be able to highlight these special dogs on ESPN2 with this show. “
ACE Award recipients in each category will receive $ 1,000 to be awarded to an animal-related charity of their choice, a one-year supply of Eukanuba dog food and an engraved sterling silver medallion.
ACE Awards 2021 winners:
2021 K-9 Uniform Service
“K-9 Mattis”, a German Shepherd handled by Sergeant Mark Tappan of Alpharetta, Georgia
“K-9 Mattis” is an eight-year-old German Shepherd dog who served in the Alpharetta Police Department with his handler, Sergeant Mark Tappan. Throughout his five-year career, Mattis has been responsible for over three million dollars in drug seizures, 20 successful leads, and over 200 arrests, including jumping off a 40-foot cliff without hesitation while following a suspect in 2016.
After retiring in March 2021, Mattis continued to serve his community in different ways. Sgt Mark Tappan and Mattis are now using social media platforms to raise funds for sick children, single mothers struggling to pay their bills and other law enforcement agencies in need of funding for their K-9 programs. Mattis is not only the face of K9 Law Enforcement at Alpharetta, but also helps bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community, reminding officers of how loyal, humble, patient and kind officers are.
Therapy dog 2021
“Teddy”, a Bernese Mountain Dog owned by Caleigh Brown and Pamela Brown from Attleboro, Massachusetts
“Teddy”, officially known as Steadfast Bright Lights Prince Theodore CGCA TKA, is an eight year old Bernese Mountain Dog owned by George, Pamela and Caleigh Brown of Attleboro, Massachusetts.
K9FR Canine Teddy is certified by Dog Bone’s Therapy Dogs and K9 First Responders, Inc. Uniformed K9 First Responders (K9FR) teams bridge the gap between traumatic event and link to mental health support by leveraging the human connection -canine. In this capacity, Teddy has provided support to people in a wide range of situations, including entry to prison following the untimely death of a young correctional officer and the reassurance of EMS staff following the death of a colleague. beloved. Most recently, Teddy and George have been deployed to support the United States Capitol Police, providing individual and group attention.
As a therapy dog, Teddy visits schools and is a member of a school’s Remove Stress Club. He works as a companion dog to read for children with education challenges and visits classrooms to provide support to students and teachers. Teddy also participates in adult day programs for adults with developmental disabilities.
When Teddy isn’t bringing comfort to those in need, he often competes with his high school owner, Caleigh, in conformation, obedience, and other performance events.
Assistance dog 2021
“SSD Dyson”, a Labrador Retriever owned by Brandon C. Holiday from North Wales, Pennsylvania
“Dyson”, a ten year old Labrador Retriever, is a service dog for his owner, Brandon C. Holiday of North Wales, Pennsylvania. Dyson responds to emergencies and helps Holiday with various tasks. Holiday was injured in the line of duty as a police officer and lost his leg below the knee as a result of the injury and complications from his autoimmune disease, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Holiday suffered ten heart attacks, one mini-embolism, and one adrenal crisis.
While Holiday suffered from these life-and-death situations, Dyson performed his training, brought him his cell phone to dial 911, pressed a K9 emergency phone, and pulled him out of his basement. Brandon Holiday attributes his life to Dyson, having repeatedly stepped in to save him. Additionally, Dyson gave Holiday the freedom to compete for Team USA as a paracanoe athlete, serving other people with disabilities.
With inspiration from Dyson, Holiday created an organization called Red, White & Blue K9 Services that employs disabled veterans and first responders, training with their K9 partners to continue working as K9 detector teams. The program helps disabled first responders, and veterans like Holiday, have the ability to work and continue to serve after being injured. For Holiday, Dyson is more than just a service dog, but a second chance at life as well as a companion and best friend.
Search and Rescue Dog 2021
“Magnus Ares”, a Belgian Malinois owned and operated by Sinead Imbaro from Miami, Florida
“Magnus” is a seven year old Belgian Malinois certified as a FEMA Canine Research Specialist for the state of Florida. He is a highly trained detection dog specializing in human odors and narcotics, working with his owner and handler, Sinead Imbaro of Miami, Florida.
Magnus is certified by the American Working Association for Narcotics Detection, which has worked for six years to help keep drugs off the streets of South Florida. He has also achieved Level 1 Tracking Certification and the MPC Phase 1 Basic Tracking Course, which specializes in Tactical Tracking and Human Odor Tracking. Additionally, Magnus works as a K9 Medic demonstration dog, participating in demonstrations on how to care for an injured K9 on the spot. Magnus and his owner travel nationally and internationally, teaching odor detection techniques to handlers.
Magnus is a distinguished working dog with a long list of awards and accomplishments, but his most notable attribute is his work ethic. Recently, Magnus Ares and his owner were deployed to the Surfside Collapse on June 25, 2021 with the Florida Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 6. They were on site for the next nine days looking for signs of life. The team worked in silence as rescuers and machinery searched the debris and belongings of residents who once lived in the condo complex.
Exemplary companion 2021
“Benny”, a Labrador Retriever owned by Cheryl DelSangro from Las Vegas, Nevada
“Benny”, an eight year old Labrador Retriever owned by Cheryl DelSangro from Las Vegas, Nevada, is well known in her hometown for his remarkable ability to ice skate. He became a fan favorite skating the Las Vegas Knights hockey games at the T-Mobile Arena with his own custom hockey skates and stick.
However, Benny doesn’t just ice skate to wow the crowd, he uses his special on-ice skills to help children with disabilities. Benny skates with a group called Spectrum On Ice (SOI), which is an ice skating program for children with autism and other developmental disabilities. Benny skates, plays games and shows tricks on the ice with these kids. Benny also visits Opportunity Village, which offers men and women with all levels of disabilities the chance to lead a life that was previously unattainable. Benny gives shows, where he shows skateboarding and special stuff and visits everyone to help spread smiles and joy.
Read Benny’s full story.
Honorable mentions at the 2021 ACE Awards
K-9 Uniform Service Honorable Mentions
- “Ally”, a Bloodhound who works to keep his community safe, having answered more than 238 calls, including finding a missing minor and locating a patient with Alzheimer’s disease.
- “Tabitha”, a Doberman Pinscher and certified explosives detection dog who has been charged with the diplomatic protection of royalty and many prominent figures.
- “Sky,” a German Shepherd, who is the only narcotics detection dog at Anchorage Airport in Alaska, having assisted the FBI and DEA in hundreds of cases.
Honorable mentions for therapy dog
- “Dakota,” a Doberman Pinscher whose calming nature helps calm people down during traumatic events, including responding to the 2019 Virginia Beach shooting.
- “Penny,” an all-American female dog who turned her past into a life of service as her region’s first canine court attorney.
- “Raven,” a German Shepherd and certified therapy dog who works primarily in the courts, helping child victims of sexual abuse muster the strength and composure to testify against their abuser.
Honorable mentions for assistance dogs
- “Arty”, a Golden Retriever who breathed new life into a boy with autism, allowing him to live at home rather than in a hospital setting.
- “Renata”, a Labrador Retriever, who knows over 60 sign commands and helps her owner live independently, despite his disability.
- “Kendalee,” a Labrador Retriever guide dog who helps his blind owner navigate life, going from withdrawn and anxious to outgoing and confident. The duo also take part in the AKC rally, helping to improve their communication and strong bond.
Honorable mentions in search and rescue
- “Trooper”, an Australian Shepherd research dog who has successfully closed countless grieving families and discovered historic graves, among many other accomplishments.
- “Bravo,” a Rat Terrier search and rescue dog specializing in finding lost pets, helping to recover over 200 lost dogs since 2019.
- “Hunter,” a Golden Retriever and certified K9 Human Remains Detector, who has a lengthy resume that includes responding to nine federal disasters.
Exemplary companion Honorable mentions
- “Tuffy”, a Newfoundland whose natural instinct for water helped him save his owner and another dog from drowning.
- “Rockefeller”, a Doberman Pinscher who spends his free time donating blood to save his canine companions, in addition to excelling in perfume work and in the ring.
- “Carmel,” a Golden Retriever who has participated in the Morris Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study for over half a decade to help advance his breed.