Pit Bull Named 2013 Hero Dog of the Year

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The country’s top therapy dog of 2013 has been named – it’s a pit bull called Elle (pronounced Ellie) from Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. She helps teach kids how to read, as well as learn about dog safety and overcoming prejudice and stereotypes, something many pit bulls face.

She was presented with the award at the 2013 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards. No, dogs don’t really care about awards unless they’re made out of bone marrow, but they certainly enjoy the attention that ceremonies bring, and Elle certainly received her fair share of it!

“The American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards were created to honor some of the most extraordinary heroes the world has ever known, the very best of our ‘best friends’ – ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, President and CEO of the American Humane Association. “These courageous canines have gone above and beyond the call of duty, saving lives on the battlefield, comforting the ill, aged and afflicted, bringing hope to those who have lost it and reminding us of the powerful, age-old bond between animals and people. Choosing a top dog is difficult because they are all so terrific, but we are proud to announce Elle as the top American Hero Dog for 2013. As an organization that for years has fought breed-specific legislation (BSL), we are also pleased to honor a breed that has been often been unjustly maligned. We hope that Elle’s story will help to underscore the many tremendously positive qualities of this breed.”

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More than two million children are bitten by dogs every year, but Elle helps teach children how to approach dogs and recognize their body language and behavior. She also helps kids overcome their fears of dogs – who could be afraid when they’re being covered in kisses?

Elle is also part of the Tail Wagging Tales program, which helps children improve their reading skills. Reading to dogs instead of people can take some pressure off, allowing kids to relax and sound words out without having nervous adults waiting for them to make mistakes.

The loveable girl visits a number of schools, and also touches the other end of the spectrum by visiting retirement homes. She helps entire families learn about responsible pet parenting and raises awareness about misunderstood and feared breeds.

The award ceremony boasted a number of celebrities in attendance, including Pauley Perrette, Ben Savage, Danielle Fishell, Joey Lawrence, dog trainer Victoria Stilwell, and of course, Betty White, who is widely known as an animal lover and advocate. Set your DVRs & Hoppers (the hoppa!) – the Hallmark Channel will be airing the ceremony on October 30th at 8pm/7 central as part of the Pet Project, which aims to celebrate the happiness and fulfillment animals bring to our lives.

For more information on Elle, please visit her Facebook page.

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33 thoughts on “Pit Bull Named 2013 Hero Dog of the Year”

    • I believe the so called Pit bull problem could be ended if more people knew dog behavior and would take responsibility. not to mention learn to properly get a dog off a person or animal. And I think the general public should be more aware of dog behavior. and should learn both kids and adults what to do when approached by a strange dog.

    • Yeah wouldn’t it be odd article regarding Best Dog of the Year title ended with an animal cruelty charge filed against owner for altercation of ears?

      No European standards apply here, apparently. Ears can be cropped, tails docked in the US and are not frowned upon. In fact, bringing it up wins more “thumbs down”…so much for humanitarian arguments.

      heh. strange world indicated in these set standards.

    • She would look much better with her ears, but she’s a rescue dog. Her current owner did not do this. We do not promote ear-cropping or tail-docking at all, but are not going to shun such a wonderful story because of Elle’s past.

  1. Beautiful story of a wonderful animal. Unfortunate that an ad for Bully Max dog steroids shared the page, highlighting the worst side of human’s hands on these dogs. “Build muscle and size.” Degenerates…

    • Not that I’m disagreeing with the “size is prize” mentality… its more than a little skewed… but Bully Max is basically just a bunch of protein compounds and vitamins to support muscle maintenance. Its not really any different than what most people drink in a protein shake, with maybe a little bit more chicken liver flavoring.

      Sorry, this is a fabulous article and I’m glad this dog is getting the recognition she deserves… just thought “dog steroids” was funny.

    • I agree totally with your original response. I live in Baltimore where I’ve seen lots of pits walking around with hardware (literally) hanging off of their necks because their owners were bulking them up. I wonder why?

  2. Because Jane is not smarter then any dog she certainly would not know how to raise one and would try to spread her propaganda. Dogs are smart, they see people for what they are and regardless of breed would most likely bite Jane. I’m sure she has 15 nasty cats shitting all over her home. For each his/her own!

  3. haha, wow our PC world has become so automated against prejudice and discrimination that now we are going out of our way to give DOGS that were previous ‘racially’ stereotyped awards just to counteract the bias. so, when does it become a social faux-pas or ‘ignorant’ to speak out against a pitbull? To know that statistically, they are more prone to ‘crime’ and ‘assault’, but act based on it, you are ‘prejudice’? I don’t want my kid saying ‘well, that pitbull looks dangerous, but I’ll walk by it anyways, bc I don’t judge and see all dogs equally, regardless of genetic makeup’.


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