Which dog are you rooting for?
Meet the winner of the 2014 American Hero Dog!
Her name is Susie! She is a Pit Bull mix therapy dog!
All dressed up in a purple tutu with strands of pearls around her neck, Susie received a standing ovation at the awards night of the American Humane Association’s 2014 American Hero Dog last Saturday in Beverly Hills.
“I’m just blown away!” Donna Lawrence, Susie’s owner, told TODAY. “There were so many amazing dogs with great stories. When they called Susie, I just wanted to cry.”
Susie’s walk down the red carpet is a dream because of how her life began. When she was still a puppy five years ago, she licked the face of her owner’s child. The owner reacted violently, beating Susie brutally.She was even set on fire. Susie’s body was covered in third-degree burns, and her ears burned off.
Caregivers helped Susie throughout her painful recovery.
Donna Lawrence adopted her then. Many were surprised by her move considering what she had gone through just 10 months earlier. In 2008, Lawrence was attacked by a neglected Pit Bull who spent much of his life tied to a tree in her neighbor’s yard in High Point, North Carolina.
“It snuck up behind me and grabbed me by the ankle and went into a full attack,” she recalled. “He lunged at my throat, but I had grabbed my collar so when he grabbed on, he bit my hand.”
She managed to break free from the dog and ran to a neighbor’s house. She was immediately taken to hospital andtreated for severe lacerations. The doctors shared unfortunate news with her that plunged her into a deep depression.
“I had miscarried, and I had lost my ability to have kids because of the attack,” Lawrence said. “They told me I had a zero percent chance.”
She said the incident left her very fearful of dogs.
“If Susie hadn’t come into my life, I don’t know that I ever would have gotten over the fear,” Lawrence said. “I was drawn to her spirit — her love and affection for people when she should hate them, you know? She was living in the moment, not living in the past, happy … I thought, ‘If this puppy can forgive humans, I can forgive dogs.’”
Months after her adoption, Susie became a therapy dog. She helps people who have survived traumatic events. Lawrence and Susie also fought for stronger anti-cruelty laws in North Carolina.
And in 2010, they stood by as Gov. Bev Perdue signed Susie’s Law into effect. Susie’s paw print even appears beside the governor’s signature.
The awards show will be aired on the Hallmark Channel on Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, 7 p.m. Central time.