From Refugee to Spokesdog: Humane Association Honors Hero Pup

The 2015 American Hero Dog was revealed earlier this month by the American Humane Association. Harley the Chihuahua, who sustained an array of serious injuries while living in a puppy mill, found a second life as the face of the National Mill Dog Rescue.

Most dogs haven’t been through what Harley has—but far too many have.

The 14-year-old Chihuahua spent the first two-thirds of his life in a puppy mill, a controversial type of commercial dog-breeding facility. While there, Harley lived in cramped cages and lost an eye and much of his ability to move. When the puppy mill was done with him, Harley was left to die.

Before that was allowed to happen, rescue volunteers swept in to help. Soon, he was adopted by a couple inspired by his story.

Harley was expected to live just a few months, but he beat the odds, became a Facebook star, and eventually accepted a role as a spokesdog for the National Mill Dog Rescue—acting as a reminder of the dangers that dogs in puppy mills face and the potential for dogs outside that environment. These days, Harley travels around the country, campaigning on the issue with his partner, Teddy. Together, they’ve helped to save as many as 10,000 dogs from puppy mills.

Last Saturday, all that hard work paid off. At a Beverly Hills gala awards ceremony, Harley beat out seven other dogs to win the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Award, which recognizes “ordinary dogs doing extraordinary things.” Harley was joined at the ceremony by his owners, Rudi and Dan Taylor.

“Harley survived in hell for 10 years, and there’s only one thing that allows the spirit to do that, and that’s to be indomitable,” Dan Taylor said. “That spirit is allowing him now to be the voice for dogs who cannot speak for themselves … and give everybody hope that tomorrow’s going to be a better day.”

Other pups that were finalists for the award were pretty impressive too. They included the arson dog Glory (who sniffs out accelerants used in intentionally set fires), the guide dog Chara (who saved his handler’s young child from dying of sudden infant death syndrome), and the military dog Rambo (who served for more than a year in the Marine Corps).

This is the fifth year that the American Hero Dog Awards have been given.

(via Harley's Facebook page)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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