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Susie, courtesy American Humane Association

Meet the AHA 2014 American Hero Dog!

In spite of overwhelming obstacles, a hero finds strength to endure and to carry on to help others bear their own hardships. A hero is somebody who’s been there, someone who understands. Someone who can inspire others to persevere just by sharing their own experiences. Sometimes, that hero is a dog.

Each year the American Humane Association hosts the Hero Dog Awards to acknowledge and celebrate those hirsute heroes that benefit the world by saving lives in a disaster, acting as sight or hearing dogs, providing therapy to children suffering from illness, or just being a loyal companion when we need it the most. There were a total of 135 entries in eight categories (including law enforcement, fire rescue, and military dogs). Almost 2 million online votes were cast choosing a therapy dog named Susie as the Top Hero Dog of 2014.

A pit bull mix, Susie underwent a terrible ordeal years ago when she was only a puppy. Her owner brutally beat her and set her on fire. The incident left Susie without her ears, but she never lost heart. After being rescued by an animal shelter and nursed back to health, she was adopted by Donna Lawrence, herself the victim of a dog attack that nearly killed her. Finding strength in each other, the pair now visit hospitals, nursing homes, and schools to demonstrate through their own stories that it’s possible to overcome traumatic events and press on to inspire others.

Together, Lawrence and Susie also fought for stronger anti-cruelty laws in North Carolina; in 2010, Gov. Bev Perdue signed Susie’s Law into effect, Susie adding a  paw print beside the governor’s signature.

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