Hallmark Channel and American Humane Association Celebrate Extraordinary Canines and Their Human Par

Hallmark Channel and American Humane Association Celebrate Extraordinary Canines and Their Human Partners with 3rdAnnual "American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards"

Nominations Now Open; Voting by the Public Commences May 7

Black Tie Awards Gala Tapes at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 5; 2-hour Special to Air on Hallmark Channel this Fall as Part of Network's Advocacy Campaign, "Pet Project"

STUDIO CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Hallmark Channel and American Humane Association announced today the return of the "American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™," a unique program designed to honor our canine allies and the incredible range of contributions they make to our lives every day. The 2013 Hero Dog Awards constitutes one element of a newly expanded relationship between American Humane Association and Hallmark Channel's animal advocacy campaign "Pet Project", which is designed to celebrate pets and the joy they bring to our lives, while shining a spotlight on the epidemic of pet homeless in our country.

"For thousands of years, dogs have protected us, comforted us, and given us their unconditional love," said Dr. Robin Ganzert, President and CEO of American Humane Association. "We launched the Hero Dog Awards in 2010 to repay this devotion and honor the timeless, vital bond between people and animals, and the public has responded with a tremendous outpouring of support. Last year, more than 3 million votes were cast by the American public and the campaign continues to grow. We invite everyone to take part by nominating and voting for those who over time have proven again and again to be not only our personal and national heroes, but our best friends."

"Hero Dog Awards, the only program of its kind, has become a tradition for Hallmark Channel and is such a special way to celebrate our four-legged heroes and, through their inspirational stories, educate the public about how vital they are to virtually every aspect of our lives, work, and well-being," says Bill Abbott, CEO and President, Crown Media Family Networks. "As the country's leading advocate for the welfare of animals, American Humane Association is an ideal partner for this program — and as we work to step up our own pet initiative, 'Pet Project,' we are so pleased to have the opportunity to expand our relationship with them as their media partner and build on the incredible work they do."

Presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc. and produced by Emmy® Award-winning MRB Productions, the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards will tape October 5 before a live audience at a black tie, star-studded gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles on October 5 and will air as a 2-hour special on Hallmark Channel this fall. Dog lovers are encouraged to visit www.herodogawards.org to nominate their own heroic canines in any one of eight categories: Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs; Service Dogs; Therapy Dogs; Military Dogs; Guide Dogs; Search and Rescue Dogs; Hearing Dogs; and Emerging Hero Dogs, a category recognizing ordinary pets who do extraordinary things. Nominations close April 30 and online public voting commences May 7. Each category will eventually be narrowed down to one finalist, and the eight category winners, along with their human companions, will be flown to Los Angeles for the awards ceremony, where each dog will be honored with a moving video tribute and one dog will be named American Hero Dog of the Year."

Finalists for the 2012 Hero Dog Awards included: War veteran and internet sensation, military working dog Sgt. Gabe, who completed 210 combat missions in Iraq and was instrumental in the detection of 26 explosives and weapons finds; hearing dog Tatiana, who alerts her owner, afflicted by a potentially fatal form of asthma and an inner ear disorder called Meniere's Disease, when she is going to have an attack; Tabitha, a guide dog for the blind, who helped restore the confidence and independence of her human partner, who lost her sight as an adult; Jynx, a law enforcement dog who saved the lives of several officers during an ambush shooting; service dog Stella, a happy-go-lucky standard poodle who brings joy every day to the patients she visits at healthcare and residential care facilities; Holly, a pet who became her owner Shanna's service dog when it was discovered that she was able to detect Shanna's epileptic seizures and warn her in advance of their onset; Soot, a rescued black Labrador who went on to some rescue work himself as search and rescue dog, saving the life of a diabetic hiker who had gotten lost in the woods; and Daniel, known as the "Miracle Beagle" who, against all odds, survived a gas chamber at an Alabama shelter and now travels the country with his owner Joe to encourage state legislatures to outlaw gas as a form of euthanasia at animal shelters.

The 2012 Hero Dog Awards were hosted by popular television, film, and Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth, while the inaugural program in 2011 was hosted by Carson Kressley. A full talent search for the host of the 2013 "Hero Dog Awards" is currently underway. Other celebrity participants in the 2011 and 2012 Hero Dog Awards programs include Betty White, Whoopi Goldberg, Peter Fonda, Burt Reynolds, Pauley Perrette, Michael Vartan, Faith Ford, Joey Lawrence, Jason Lewis, Naomi Judd, Lisa Vanderpump, Victoria Stillwell, Chelsea Handler, among many others.

To watch all 16 tribute videos honoring the 2011 and 2012 Hero Dog Award category winners, please visit: Hero Dog Awards Tribute Videos.

The Hero Dog Awards highlights the powerful relationship between dogs and people and helps raise much-needed resources to support the vital work of American Humane Association - the nation's voice for the protection of children and animals. Generous sponsors of the 2013 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards include the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., Hallmark Channel, MRB Productions, national online sponsor and therapy dog category sponsor Zoetis, Law enforcement/arson dog category sponsor State Farm, print media sponsor Modern Dog Magazine, category sponsor Paul Mitchell Schools, and Best Producer Sponsor Merial. The "National Spokesdog" for the 2013 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards is Super Smiley, a two-time shelter dog, animal actor, and animal advocate whose mission is to help all the shelter pets get adopted and to share the message that dogs are healers, teachers and heroes.

About American Humane Association

American Humane Association is the country's first national humane organization and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Since 1877, American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting our most vulnerable from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Today we're also leading the way in understanding the human-animal bond and its role in therapy, medicine and society. American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. You can help make a difference, too. Visit American Humane Association at www.americanhumane.org today.

About Hallmark Channel

Hallmark Channel, owned and operated by Crown Media Holdings, Inc., is a 24-hour basic cable network that provides a diverse slate of high-quality entertainment programming available in high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) to a national audience of 87 million subscribers. Hallmark Channel is the nation's leading destination for quality family programming with an ambitious slate of original TV movies and specials, as well as some of television's most beloved sitcoms and series, including The Golden Girls, Frasier, and Happy Days. The channel is also home to a range of lifestyle programming, anchored by Home & Family, a daily two-hour live show shot in a fully functional house located on the Universal Studios lot, and Marie, a one-hour talk show hosted by iconic entertainer, Marie Osmond. Hallmark Channel's sibling network, Hallmark Movie Channel, also available in HD and SD, focuses on family-friendly movies with a mix of original films, classic theatrical releases, and presentations from the acclaimed Hallmark Hall of Fame library.

For more information, please visit www.crownmediapress.com
Hallmark Channel on Social Media: Facebook, Twitter (Join the conversation at #HeartofTV), Pinterest, GetGlue, YouTube

About Hallmark Channel's Pet Project

Hallmark Channel's Pet Project is a multi-faceted initiative devoted to celebrating pets and the incredible joy and enrichment they bring to our lives. To carry out our mission, we'll be bringing you compelling original programming, social media outreach, and a resource-rich website. Through public service announcements, local grass-roots events, and strategic partnerships with such national non-profit organizations as American Humane Association, Hallmark Channel's Pet Project also aims to shine a spotlight on this country's epidemic of pet homelessness and provide the public with the information and resources they need to find their new best friend.

For more information, please visit http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/petproject

About Lois Pope, The Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., and LIFE (Leaders in Furthering Education)

Lois Pope is one of America's leading philanthropists and humanitarians. Through her various charitable mechanisms, including the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., she is devoted to saving lives, helping people help themselves, improving the quality of life for families in need and encouraging young Americans to become leaders by helping others. Her foundations also provide awards for medical research, college scholarships, humanitarian relief, the performing arts, and animal welfare. Among the many organizations that benefit from her leadership are American Humane Association; the Disabled Veterans' LIFE Memorial Foundation, which she founded to spearhead the development of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, the nation's first and only permanent public tribute to the three million living disabled American veterans and the thousands who have died; the University of Miami, where her major contribution endowed the Lois Pope LIFE Center, the top catastrophic neurological research facility in the world and home to the renowned Miami Project to Cure Paralysis; Leaders in Furthering Education, which has provided a summer camp experience for more than 30,000 disadvantaged and special needs children, as well as college scholarship support to dozens of disadvantaged high school students who aspire to careers as physicians/researchers; Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel's Red Cross, for new ambulances; and the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League for a new mobile pet adoption unit.

About MRB Productions

Launched in 2001 by Emmy Award-winning Executive Producer Matthew Brady, MRB Productions has quickly become one of Hollywood's go-to production companies, garnering 15 Emmy nominations and 2 wins for its visually striking content. In features, MRB's political comedy, GRASSROOTS, starring Jason Biggs, opened theatrically in the US and Europe and is also available On Demand. EMANUEL AND THE TRUTH ABOUT FISHES, a psychological thriller starring Jessica Biel, premiered in competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. In television, MRB is the production company behind two seasons of FREE RADIO (VH1 and Comedy Central), THE OTHER MALL (ABC Family), and the annual HERO DOG AWARDS for Hallmark Channel. MRB also produces content for HBO, ESPN, NBC, ABC, NFL Network, and Longhorn Network. In the digital space, MRB's work ranges from comedy shorts on Funny or Die to the critically acclaimed Webby Award winning THE CONFESSION, starring Kiefer Sutherland, produced exclusively for Hulu and distributed internationally by Sony Pictures Television.

Hallmark Channel
Allison Bennett, 212-445-6692
Jody Frisch or Mark Stubis, 202-677-4214/4227

KEYWORDS: United States North America California


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