Gabe, a retired military dog who completed more than 210 combat missions in Iraq with 26 explosive and weapons finds, was named American Hero Dog of 2012 this weekend at the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards at the Beverly Hilton.
Since retiring in 2009, Gabe visits schools, seeking to promote the values of compassion and respect, and the importance of staying in school.
A $10,000 donation will be made to The United States War Dog Association in connection with the award.
The winner was selected by a panel at the Oct. 6 event that included Whoopi Goldberg, Kristen Chenoweth, and the handlers and owners of last year's eight finalists.
The seven runners-up each won $5,000 for a designated charity.
The ceremony, hosted by Chenoweth, will be shown Nov. 8 on the Hallmark Channel.
The other seven finalists were:
- Daniel, a beagle who survived an attempt to euthanize him and has become an advocate for shelter adoptions and humane euthanasia legislation.
- Tabitha, a guide dog who helped her blind former guardian Ann Drake find confidence and complete her undergraduate and graduate studies.
- Jynx, a police dog with the Berks County (Pa.) Sheriff's Department, credited with preventing further deaths in the fatal shooting of his handler.
- Tatiana, a hearing dog who saved the life of her handler by alerting her family when she had a severe asthma attack.
- Soot, a black Labrador who rescued a lost, 78-year-old diabetic hunter in West Virginia on a cold December morning.
- Holly, a seizure alert dog who enables her guardian, Shanna Wilkinson, to live a full life, despite suffering from epileptic seizures.
- Stella, a standard poodle who had brought joy and stimulation to people with significant intellectual, medical and physical disabilities.
Actress Betty White received the American Humane Association's National Humanitarian Medal and Legacy Award.
"We bestow the National Humanitarian Medal, our highest honor, on those who reflect our core values of compassion, caring and hope," American Humane Association President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert said. "Betty more than reflects these values, she radiates them. Betty has more than earned the Legacy Award by dedicating herself to protecting and improving the quality of life for animals. Betty is an inspiration to me personally, to everyone at American Humane Association and to millions of animal lovers around the world."
To view Gabe's Facebook page, click here.