Tucson service pit bull nominated as hero dog

He alerts owner to seizures, was taken in drug raid
2013-07-08T00:00:00Z 2013-07-08T10:39:20Z Tucson service pit bull nominated as hero dogKimberly Gonzales For The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Last year he was "the reindog" because of his participation in the Christmas drive at the Pima Animal Care Center.

This year, Booker is a nominee for the American Humane Association's Hero Dog Awards.

Not bad for a shelter pit bull who was confiscated in a drug bust.

Booker, who spends his time now as a service dog, is the only dog from Arizona to be nominated for the contest, which is designed to recognize dogs for their courageous exploits.

If he's among the top eight dogs, he gets a trip to California. If he's picked the overall winner, his charity wins $5,000.

Booker's owner, Dawn Myers, had never heard of the awards until she received emails from someone who entered Booker into the contest.

"You can actually nominate your own dog. Because someone had actually thought of him and emailed, it's an honor," Myers said.

Myers found Booker about three years ago while searching on Craigslist for a bookcase. Booker had been confiscated in a drug bust and was placed in the animal shelter.

Myers, a Tucson paramedic, began to suffer from seizures six months after becoming Booker's owner.

Booker can detect when Myers is having a seizure and alerts her by licking, pawing and sometimes barking at her.

After training, Booker was made an official service dog, equipped with a special vest to prove it.

This year will be the third annual hero dog award ceremony.

Dogs are placed into categories including: law enforcement/arson dogs, service dogs, therapy dogs, military dogs, guide dogs and search-and-rescue dogs.

"We thought it was time to throw them a bone and return the favor," said Mark Stubis, chief communications officer at the American Humane Association.

"There are a million dogs, way small and large, that are helping to prove they can save lives," he said.

Voting for the eight finalists takes place online until July 30.

Eight finalists, one for each category, will be flown to Los Angeles, where one dog will be named the American Hero Dog of the Year. That dog will be selected Oct. 5.

The award program will be aired Nov. 7 on the Hallmark Channel.

The winning dog gets $5,000 awarded to its charity partner. Booker's charity of choice is Freedom Service Dogs.

Stubis said last year there were 3 million voters nationwide compared with 500,000 the first year of the awards.

Booker is among 141 nominees, and Myers said Booker is in third place in the service dog category.

"It's a cool thing," Myers said. "But it isn't about winning for us. Just being nominated is an honor enough."

Booker has his own Facebook page, which is "Booker the pitbull service dog."

How to vote

To vote for Booker go to www.herodogawards.org

Kimberly Gonzales is a University of Arizona student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at 573-4117 or starapprentice@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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