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Five Canine Heroes Honored With AKC® Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE)

(Thursday, September 16, 2010)

-- Recipients Include a Rescue Dog Turned Search and Rescue Hero, a Westminster Best in Show Winner and a Surfing Dog! --

The AKC® Humane Fund announced the winners of the 11th annual AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE), which commemorates five loyal, hard-working dogs that have made significant contributions to their communities in each of the following five categories: Exemplary Companion Dog, Search and Rescue, Law Enforcement, Therapy and Service. A press conference celebrating their accomplishments was held at TD Bank in midtown Manhattan today.

"The AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence celebrate what dogs contribute to our lives and these five exceptional recipients exemplify the heroic acts canines can accomplish," said Lisa Peterson AKC Spokesperson. "Their inspiring stories serve as an example of the canine-human bond and the impact a single dog can make in a community."

All the ACE recipients will receive $1,000 and an engraved Sterling silver medallion at the nationally televised AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in Long Beach, California on December 5, 2010. In addition they will be honored individually at local events. The New York and New Jersey ACE winners will have their local ceremony and be available for a public meet and greet during Meet the Breeds* on October 16-17, 2010 at the Jacob Javits Center in NYC.

This year’s ACE winners include:

Search and Rescue Dog: "Cassius" owned by Peter Taft of Brooklyn, NY
Once a shelter dog and now trained for Search and Rescue work, Cassius and owner Peter have been deployed by or worked closely with many organizations, including the Bedford Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Louisiana State EMS Boat Team Search and Rescue, and the United States Army Airborne. The two also served during Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina and in Haiti during the aftermath of the recent earthquake. While Peter performed paramedic work in the Haiti, Cassius, also a certified Therapy dog, provided comfort to both victims and volunteers of the tragedy. The team received Congressional Commendations for their exceptional work.

Therapy Dog: "Rufus" owned by Thomas and Barbara Bishop of Holmdel, NJ
Rufus performs equally as well in show ring as he does in the community – he’s the top-winning Bull Terrier of all time as well as an exceptional Therapy dog. Since retiring from the show ring, Rufus has spent countless hours spreading happiness and cheer at schools, senior citizen programs and nursing-rehabilitation centers. He received a special invitation to visit injured soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Service Dog: "Wyatt" owned by Janice Wolfe of Wyckoff, NJ
While most Service Dogs typically work with just one person, Wyatt, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, has worked with hundreds. His breeder/owner Janice Wolfe is the founder and director of Merlin’s Kids, an organization that places dogs with autistic and developmentally disabled children. Wyatt’s affinity for children and his remarkable patience allows Janice to determine if a Service dog is right for a particular child.

Law Enforcement Dog: "Nike" owned by Senior Corporal Mark Tobin, New Castle County Police of New Castle, DE
Nike, an 11-year old German Shepherd Dog, spent ten years serving the 500,000 citizens of New Castle County, Delaware, with his partner, Senior Corporal Mark Tobin. This decade of service resulted in 161 apprehensions and the seizure of 1.6 million dollars worth of drugs. Nike also used his tracking skills to find an Alzheimer’s patient who had wandered away from home and a six-year old autistic boy lost in 97 degree heat, among many others.

Exemplary Companion Dog: "Ricochet" owned by Judy Fridono of Escondido, CA
When Golden Retriever Ricochet was dropped from Service Dog training due to her distractible nature, owner Judy Fridono decided to focus their efforts on something Ricochet could do – surf! This wave-loving Golden now surfs for charitable causes, and has raised more than $10,000 for a quadriplegic boy’s rehab as well as funds to purchase toys for 630 children at hospitals and women’s shelters during a Christmas toy drive.

View photos and stories about the 2010 AKC Humane Fund ACE recipients and honorable mentions.

ACE winners Cassius (Search and Rescue), Rufus (Therapy) and Wyatt (Service) at the press conference announcing the ACE winners at TD Bank on September 16, 2010.
ACE Therapy Dog winner "Wyatt" gives owner Janice Wolfe a hug.
ACE winners with AKC Spokesperson Lisa Peterson and TD Bank employees
Brandon Williams, TD Bank’s Senior Retail Officer of NY, speaks while "Wyatt" and owner Janice Wolfe look on
"Cassius" and owner Peter Taft (Search and Rescue), "Rufus" and owner Barbara Bishop (Therapy) and "Wyatt" and owner Janice Wolfe (Service)
AKC Spokesperson Lisa Peterson announces the 2010 Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE) recipients as "Cassius" and owner Peter Taft look on
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