Loving dog who had tongue cruelly cut out wins incredible honor

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America's eight most heroic pooches walked the red carpet on September 10 for the 6th Annual American Humane Hero Dog Awards -- and one gentle giant stole everyone's hearts.

After nearly a million public votes and input by a celebrity panel, Hooch the French Mastiff was honored as the 2016 American Hero Dog.

SEE ALSO: Dog masterminds escape from an animal shelter, breaks out of 3 doors

The pup was rescued three years ago by Marley's Mutts in California after someone horrifically cut out his tongue and chopped off his ears.

Rescuers believe Hooch was brutally abused to prepare him to serve as a bait dog in a vicious dog-fighting ring.

See more of this sweet, award-winning dog:

13 PHOTOS
Hooch the French Mastiff
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Hooch the French Mastiff
(Photo courtesy of Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue)
(Photo courtesy of Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue)
(Photo courtesy of Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue)
(Photo courtesy of Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue)
(Photo courtesy of Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue)
(Photo courtesy of Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue)
(Photo courtesy of Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue)
(Photo courtesy of Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue)
(Photo courtesy of Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue)
(Photo courtesy of Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue)
(Photo courtesy of Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue)
(Photo courtesy of Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue)
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A dog's tongue is crucial to help them keep cool, and the critical injury made it difficult for Hooch to get proper nutrition. As a result, Hooch was a staggering 40 pounds underweight.

Zach Skow, founder of Marley's Mutts, told InsideEdition.com that they fed the pup initially with a feeding tube to help get his weight up. But eventually, they learned the best way to keep him healthy was to pour warm water on his dog food and feed him by hand.

Due to the horrific abuse he suffered, Hooch was initially terrified of people -- but after bonding with rescuers he now loves everyone, especially children.

Hooch dedicates his time to Marley's Mutts Miracle Mutts division, where he works as a therapy dog. He loves working with autistic, abused and special needs children.

You can see Hooch's incredible story and the entire inspiring awards show on the Hallmark Channel on October 28 at 8 p.m. EST/PST.

See more heroic pups and stars on the red carpet:

14 PHOTOS
2016 American Humane Hero Dog Awards
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2016 American Humane Hero Dog Awards
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Mango, Therapy Dog Category Winner, attends the Sixth Annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on September 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for American Humane Association )
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Actress Pauley Perrette (L) and Hooch, Emerging Hero Dog Category Winner, are seen onstage during the Sixth Annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on September 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for American Humane Association )
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Judge, Arson Dog Category Winner, onstage during the Sixth Annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on September 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for American Humane Association)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Actress Pauley Perrette (L) and Hooch, Emerging Hero Dog Category Winner, are seen onstage during the Sixth Annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on September 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for American Humane Association )
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: (L-R) Hooch, Emerging Hero Dog Category Winner, Kym Johnson, and Businessman Robert Herjavec are seen backstage during the Sixth Annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on September 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Chris Weeks/Getty Images for American Humane Association)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: (L-R) Judge, Arson Dog Category Winner, and actresses Pauley Perrette and Barbara Niven are seen backstage during the Sixth Annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on September 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Chris Weeks/Getty Images for American Humane Association)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Hook, Guide/Hearing Dog Category Winner, speaks onstage during the Sixth Annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on September 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for American Humane Association )
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Actor Adam Rodriguez (L), Gander, Service Dog Category Winner, and actress Alison Sweeney pose backstage during the Sixth Annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on September 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Chris Weeks/Getty Images for American Humane Association)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association, speaks onstage during the Sixth Annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on September 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for American Humane Association )
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Military Working Dog Cena attends the Sixth Annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on September 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for American Humane Association )
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Kobuk, Search and Rescue Dog Category Winner, attends the Sixth Annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on September 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Chris Weeks/Getty Images for American Humane Association)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Hook, Guide/Hearing Dog Category Winner, attends the Sixth Annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on September 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Chris Weeks/Getty Images for American Humane Association)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Gander, Service Dog Category Winner, attends the Sixth Annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on September 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for American Humane Association )
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