Honors Canine Heroes

‘Black Collar’ Affair Honors Canine Heroes

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The guests of honor used black ties, arrived in limos and strolled the yellow carpet – on all fours.

In a “black collar” event in New York City, professionally trained service canines were honored for their contributions to the community through the Pedigree Paws to Recognize program, a yearly tribute to canine heroes.

Jacko, an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois, took home top honors as the 2005 Canine of the Year for his work to safeguard America’s borders. In his profession with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, he has found more than 32,000 pounds of cannabis, 800 pounds of drug and 9 pounds of heroin. Using his detection skills, Jacko informed authorities of a scheme to smuggle 49 people inside wood boxes on two flatbed trailers into the United States.

Other notable candidates consisted of Jenner, a golden retriever that works as a guide dog for the blind and as a hospital volunteer in San Francisco; Keyotae, a volunteer search-and-rescue bloodhound who is on call 24 hours a day; Shug, a golden retriever that comforts patients through her work as a therapy canine at various hospitals; and Boris, a Belgian Malinois and military canine who served in Bosnia, Kosovo and most just recently Iraq, where he was a morale booster for homesick and lonesome soldiers.

More than 50,000 individuals cast their votes online for the dog they felt most was worthy of the title of Canine of the Year. All nominees got medals of honor and each dog’s paw print was positioned in cement. The prints were then contributed to the Hollywood-style “Pedigree Paws of Fame” in Los Angeles.

This year, Pedigree produced 2 additional awards in a brand-new “Everyday Heroes” classification honoring non-service canines and individuals who exemplify a love for dogs through their work.

The winners were Pepper, a 3-year-old pointer/healer mix from San Antonio who, regardless of a worry of water, saved his family’s 2 kids who were captured in a riptide; and Dave Breen of Sierra Vista, Ariz., who has actually rescued more than 250 greyhounds through his self-started, not-for-profit organization.

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