Puppy mill survivor named American Hero Dog for inspiring rescue campaign


Hallmark Channel airs AHA's annual American Hero Dog Awards program Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. ET

A 14-year-old Chihuahua overcame languishing in a puppy mill and losing his left eye to win the title of American Hero Dog from the American Humane Association (AHA) during its annual American Hero Dog Awards. 

Harley, of Berthoud, Colorado, lived in a puppy mill's dire conditions for a decade before he was rescued in 2011, according to a release from Merial, one of the Hero Dog sponsors. Although veterinarians believed Harley wouldn't live more than four months, he survived and is the face of an effort to raise money for dogs that share his struggles.

Harley, who lost his left eye in a puppy mill, was named the American Hero Dog.

The “Harley to the Rescue” campaign partners with the National Dog Mill Rescue to rescue and care for mill survivors. Since it was founded in 2013, the campaign has raised more than $500,000 and helped more than 500 dogs. Harley participates in fundraisers, events and rescue missions.

Harley was also named the Emerging Hero Dog, sponsored by Merial, one of eight award categories in the AHA competition and the only one open to non-service dogs. The other winners were:

• Guide/Hearing Dogs: Chara - Waynesboro, Virginia

• Arson Dogs: Glory - Evansville, Wisconsin

• Search and Rescue Dogs: Glory - Sun Valley, California

• Service Dogs: Axel - Fredericksburg, Virginia

• Law Enforcement Dogs: Dax - Ashland, Massachusetts

• Military Dogs: Rambo - Converse, Texas

• Therapy Dogs: Hudson the Railroad Puppy - Castleton, New York

All of the winners vied for the top American Hero Dog award, and more than one million people voted for the title. Celebrity judges also shared their input.

“Harley exemplifies what we look for in an Emerging Hero Dog, and he inspires hope and confidence in dogs and people alike,” says Brandt Giffin, Merial executive director. “We are honored to celebrate his achievements in advocating for dogs confined to debilitating puppy mills.”

The awards show airs Oct. 30 on the Hallmark Channel at 8 p.m. ET.


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