Fun, playful, funny, loyal, caring, comforting, and affectionate – dogs are all of these things. But besides these things, dogs are also brave and noble, and they are willing to protect their humans no matter what. Dongs have been fighting alongside soldiers for several millennia, standing guard, sniffing bombs, and carrying messages. Canine courage is recognized by the American Humane Association, which claims to be the country’s first national humane organization to honor hero dogs. This organization is founded in 1877 to ensure the safety and well-being of animals.
Many dogs have been honored for their work for search and rescue missions after hurricanes, earthquakes, and landslides, and for helping and protecting soldiers in war-torn countries. To determine the most heroic dogs in America, here are some canines who have been awarded or nominated for their heroic deeds:
Bretagne is a hero dog who became the last surviving search-and-rescue dog to brave the rubber of the World Trade Center after the terrorist attacks. She’s a golden retriever who searched for survivors at ground zero for ten days when she was just eight weeks old. That time, she was newly trained by her owner and trainer, Denise Corliss, who was a volunteer firefighter at the Cy-Fair Fire Department. Later on, Bretagne participated in the rescue efforts for Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ivan.
In 2016, she was euthanized at a veterinarian’s office after suffering from kidney failure. As a tribute, Cypress Texas firefighters and search and rescue workers lined up the sidewalk in the hospital and saluted her. Her body was draped in a Texas flag.
Bruno, the hero dog, was part of a K-9 unit for the California Police Department in Anaheim. In 2014, he was shot in the face by an armed suspect before the suspect was fatally shot by Bruno’s handler. Bruno was a six-year veteran of the force at that time when they responded to a call of a man firing on probation officers.
The dog located the man hiding inside a trash can, and when the canine lifted the lid of the can with his nose, he was shot as well as the officers. When the officers returned fire, the suspect was killed. Had it been a police officer opening the trash can, the officer would have taken a bullet and might be fatally wounded. Bruno survived but died two years later due to complications from the gunshot wound.
Judge is a well-rounded K9 who is a master of finding evidence at fire incidents in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He’s a Labrador retriever who has worked more than 275 fire scenes and found pieces of evidence that led to arrests and civil penalties for insurance fraud cases. Officials say that the number of arson fires has dropped by almost 53% since Judge has been in the service of the city.
Besides investigation, Judge also thrives in education. He has done fire safety programs and demonstrations for crime watch groups, elementary and high school programs, specialty dog shows, and everything in between. He has been instrumental in making the neighborhood communities aware of fire safety.
A K9 Navy SEAL dog named Chopper was credited with saving US troops from the Taliban attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan. He joined the armed forces after the 9/11 tragedy and was first deployed in Iraq, then Southeast Asia. He was given to Navy SEAL veteran Trevor Maroshek, whose life he has saved countless times. Trevor won’t still be alive if not for the valor of Chopper. Chopper was able to find explosives, thwart ambushes, and root out enemy combatants.
Chopper and Trevor became best buds. They took courses together, trained together, and worked as a team. That’s why Chopper never thought twice about saving Trevor’s life on the field.
Adak is a German shepherd who served in the US Department of State as an explosive detection dog. His longevity and accomplishments are unmatched. In 2006, he was assigned to support the US Embassy and dignitaries, and he performed a sweep of the Bagdad Central Station prior to the arrival of a dignitary. He alerted to a vehicle in the area, which caused the cancellation of the event.
In 2008, he served in a complex terror attack in Kabul Serena Hotel in Afghanistan; wherein numerous guests were trapped. He led a team of Americans who went room to room to evacuate people, and he performed flawlessly. He served the Department for up to 13 years and retired as a family dog.
Belgian Malinois dogs are known for their excellent work ethic and intelligence that’s widely used by law enforcement and military. One dog from this breed named Cairo was well-known for its bravery, as he famously accompanied the US commandos on the raid in 2011 that killed Osama bin Laden. Cairo reportedly helped guard the perimeter as the Navy SEALS tracked the al Qaeda founder down. Time Magazine awarded the “Animal of the Year” award to Cairo in 2011.
Life after the military became brighter than ever for Cairo. War dog organizations said that the number of people asking to adopt retired military canines has risen since Cairo’s achievement.
Gabe is one of those military dogs that have served enough to protect the country more than most people. He began his service to the United States as a Military Working Dog in 2006 and had an impact on American soldiers around the world. When he was deployed in Iraq, he was involved in more than 210 combat missions with 26 discoveries of weapons and explosives.
In addition to performing dangerous missions, he frequently visited wounded troops in Army hospitals and visited school children in elementary schools. Gabe won many awards for his service, including the American Kennel Club Heroic Military Working Dog in 2008.
8. Sgt. Fieldy
Sgt. Fieldy is a Labrador retriever deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 to track down improvised explosive devices. He served under the US Marine Corps and retired in August 2014. Sgt. Fieldy found many explosives, including a 60-pound barrel that contains homemade explosives. After deployment, he returned home and was taken back for training. But when he was deployed two more times to Afghanistan and did what he does best, he continued to find more improvised explosive devices and save more lives.
In 2018, Sgt. Fieldy was named as the Military Hero Dog of the Year by the American Humane Association. The canine is credited with saving many lives while stationed in Afghanistan.
On New Year’s Day in 2016, the Los Angeles Police Department went into pursuit of two suspects wanted for murder and robbery. They broke into a home occupied by a father and three children. The suspect stabbed the father in the face, but he was able to escape. Gunshots were heard, and Edo was deployed to make entry into the home and engage the suspect. Two boys were shot inside, and Edo saw the young victims. Edo pulled the suspect away from the gun. Later on, it was discovered that the suspect began shooting the children when his pistol jammed, and when he cleared it, the K-9 officers arrived at the door, and the suspect started shooting the officers.
Undoubtedly, Edo’s actions have saved the entire team. Both children survived, while the suspect fatally shot himself in the head.
10. Chi Chi
Therapy dog Chi Chi isn’t your usual hero dog like the others listed here. She’s a golden retriever who was a quadruple amputee, but her heroism is evident in inspiring people all over the world. She was found in a garbage bag in South Korea with her legs bound and worn to the bone, and already necrotized. The only thing that can save her life is to amputate all her for legs. She was able to adapt to custom prosthetics. She also underwent cancer surgery to remove cancer tumors, so she’s considered as a cancer survivor as well.
When people meet Chi Chi, they are inspired by her courage, ability to overcome adversity and perseverance. When she first went to America, she was afraid of humans, but with lots of love and grace, she felt safe again, learned to forgive, and decided to trust people again. Her sweet and gentle spirit opens people’s hearts, and when people hear her story and see her joyful attitude, they become inspired to face challenges. She brings a positive kind of therapy to thousands of people all over the world through her online therapy work.
During disasters, search and rescue teams play an important role in helping families with lost members get together. Stella, a tenacious Labrador retriever, is a disaster search dog who helped in search of survivors after the Hurricane Irma and during the mudslides in Montecito, California.
Stella and her handler Matthew secured and rescued citizens from severely flooded neighborhoods and damaged buildings after the hurricane. She also worked with seventeen canine teams from across California after the mudslides until every missing citizen were accounted for.
Luca was a retired search and rescue dog in 2016. But then came a call to the Fort Worth Police that an elderly man with Alzheimer’s disease has gone missing. Many officers responded, but after an extensive search, Luca was brought out of retirement to help search for the missing man.
Luca excelled in avalanche, forest, or water searches because he loves helicopter rides. He alerted at an opening of a brush at Trinity River, wherein there’s a very steep hill with a steep drop off. Due to terrain, a helicopter responded and immediately saw the lost man in the river on the opposite bank where Luca sent an alert. The officers successfully rescued the man and brought him home to safety. If Luca did not track the man’s trail and identified his location, the man would have drowned in the river, which had a cold and fast-paced water flow.