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Extraordinary Canines Recognized at Nationally Televised AKC/Eukanuba National Championship

New York, NY The AKC® Humane Fund announced today the winners of the seventh 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: Law Enforcement, Search and Rescue, Therapy, Service and Exemplary Companion Dog.

“AKC is honored to recognize these five exemplary dogs with the AKC Humane Fund Award for Canine Excellence. The heartwarming stories of each nominee made it a difficult task to choose just one winner in each category,” said Ronald N. Rella, AKC Director of Project Administration and member of the judging panel. “Each dog’s devotion to improving the lives of others and the impact they make in their community is an inspiration to dog lovers everywhere.”

All the ACE recipients will receive $1,000 and an engraved sterling-silver collar medallion at the nationally televised AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in Long Beach, California on December 12, 2009. In addition they will be honored individually at local dog shows this fall.  This year’s ACE winners include:

Exemplary Companion Dog: “Electra” owned by Mandy Willis of Valrico, FL
Electra, an eight-year-old Standard Poodle, has been seven-year-old Mandy Willis’ constant companion since her cancer diagnosis and subsequent chemotherapy treatments began in February 2008. Electra lived the life of a top show champion until her owners found out about Willis’ dream to own a Poodle. Electra and Willis immediately bonded and have been inseparable ever since.

Search and Rescue Dog: “Sage” owned by Diane Whetsel of Hagerman, NM
Sage is a 10 year old Border Collie who is owned, trained and loved by Diane Whetsel, a K-9 officer for the New Mexico Corrections Department. Sage served at the Pentagon in the aftermath of 9/11, went to Aruba in 2005 to search for the missing teen, Natalee Holloway, and in 2007 Sage and Whetsel travelled to Iraq and spent six months searching for missing soldiers.

Law Enforcement Dog: “Robin” owned by Mary & Joseph MacQueen of Frewsburg, NY
Robin, a six-year-old Golden Retriever, and his owner Mary MacQueen work for the Salamanca Police Department, the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office and assist with searches for the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force in Western New York State. In 2009 alone, Robin has been responsible for getting about half a million dollars worth of dangerous narcotics off the streets.

Therapy Dog: “Elliot” owned by Miriam Couto of Woodland, WA
Elliot is a 7-year-old Border Terrier and registered therapy dog with the Delta Society. Elliot has logged more than 1,000 hours with patients, most of them children. Elliot assists in the care of the children at his local children’s hospital, providing comfort and helping calm patients so doctors can better help them. Elliot has even assisted doctors in performing life saving duties.

Service Dog: “Benton” owned by Margo Dietrich of Norcross, GA
Benton is a six-year-old Labrador Retriever trained by Canine Companions for Independence as an assistance dog for his owner Margo Dietrich. Some of the daily tasks Benton assists Dietrich with include retrieving dropped items, dressing, and transferring her to and from a wheelchair.

View photos and stories about the 2009 AKC Humane Fund ACE recipients.