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NEW YORK, New York (Crown Media) - An update on a hero dog from Little Rock we've been following. John D, an old soul with an instinct to help, was named the nation's top search and rescue dog at the 2013 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards.

More than 1 million votes were cast by Americans from coast to coast choosing John D, a resident of Little Rock, Arkansas, and top dogs in seven other categories to be feted at a special awards gala, hosted by actor Joey Lawrence, in the landmark International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday, October 5.

Created by American Humane Association, and broadcast nationwide on Hallmark Channel, The Hero Dog Awards is designed to recognize the many contributions dogs make to our lives every day and honor the powerful bond between canines and people. Presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation and produced by Emmy Awards-winning MRB Productions, the Hero Dog Awards will premiere as a 90-minute special on Hallmark Channel on October 30 at 8pm ET/PT, 7C, as part of Hallmark Channel's Pet Project, the network's cross-platform advocacy campaign celebrating the joy and enrichment animals bring to our lives, while addressing the country's epidemic of pet homelessness.

John D joined seven other outstanding winners, one in each of the following areas: Law Enforcement and Arson; Service; Therapy; Military; Guide; Search and Rescue; Hearing; and, finally, Emerging Hero, honoring ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things. John D and his fellow category winners were honored with moving tribute videos telling their stories and were given a special Hero Dog award for their feats of loyalty, bravery, and love. Each dog was also awarded $1,500 for a selected charity partner.

The show featured an all-star panel of judges, presenters and participants including Betty White, Ryan O'Neal, Jennifer Coolidge, Lori Loughlin, Pauley Perrette, Naomi Judd, Matt Leinart, Bailee Madison, Lisa Vanderpump, Daphne Zuniga, Rico Rodriquez, and many more.

John D is a Search and Rescue dog, a human cancer detective, and all-around humanitarian. One day, John D was called in for a river search. Moments after he arrived, a woman approached and asked to pet him. She hugged him and whispered in his ear, "YOU are my only hope. Please go find my child. Please bring my baby back to me." There was an immediate bond between them. John D boarded a boat and went out on the river to begin his search. While on the water, he became completely focused and repeatedly dipped his nose in the water at the same spot. When the boat returned to shore, this hero dog leapt off the boat, running straight to the woman who had greeted him. He leaned hard against her. She bent down and hugged him. When she lifted her face from John D's fur, there were tears. John D had found her son who had drowned two days before. In addition to his search and rescue work, John D uses his remarkable scenting ability to advance the use of canines in detecting ovarian cancer and other cancers, which may help save a mother, daughter or sister from a devastating disease. John D's determination to work, despite his own severe hip dysplasia, provides inspiration to others. Once a dog rescued by people, now John D spends his life helping and saving them. His charity partner is The Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve.

The Hero Dog Awards, an annual national competition, recognizes America's Hero Dogs who unconditionally avail themselves to us in so many important ways, including saving lives on the battlefield; lending sight and hearing to their human partners; providing therapeutic support to those suffering from post- traumatic stress and a wide range of medical conditions; detecting cancer and seizures; helping autistic and disabled children and adults find their voices and connect with the world; searching and rescuing lost loved ones; bringing smiles to the suffering; and offering their unconditional love and companionship to any person lucky enough to have them in their lives.

For more information, please visit http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/petproject

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