Cole, a deaf dog from Millville has made the national finals for the 2022 American Humane Hero Dog Awards.

Following nearly one million votes cast by animal lovers across the country, Cole is one of 7 dogs who have advanced from an original field of nearly 400 candidates competing for the award.

The third and final round of voting will determine a winner. You may vote for Cole once a day between now and September 13 at

Cole and the other six top winners from each category will be honored at the American Humane Hero Dog Awards gala in Palm Beach on November 11 with one special dog being honored as this year’s American Hero Dog.

The 2022 Hero Dog Awards categories include Law Enforcement and Detection Dogs; Service Dogs; Therapy Dogs; Military Dogs; Search and Rescue Dogs; Guide/Hearing Dogs; and Shelter Dogs.

Cole is the finalist in the Therapy Dog category.

The story of Cole is intertwined with the story of his owner.

In 2017, Chris Hannah, an elementary music school teacher at Dr. William Mennies School in Vineland, went to the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter and was drawn to Cole, a deaf pitbull puppy.

According to, Chris immediately thought of his 9-year-old nephew Kevin, who is also deaf. Chris says that other families had come to visit Cole before, but they deemed him too “broken” to be adopted.

Chris didn't see Cole that way. He helped him become a certified therapy dog, even starting his own non-profit organization, the Cole the Deaf Dog & Friends Foundation, to perform free school and community assembly programs to inspire others to change the way the world thinks of those with disabilities.

Chris hopes that he can continue to share these lessons of kindness full time now that he recently adopted a sidekick for Cole, another deaf puppy, Cece.

Chris says the Team Cole Project "proves just how important dogs are in teaching empathy, as they don’t just open humans’ minds, they open humans’ hearts through their unconditional love."

We don't expect you to vote for Cole solely because he's a South Jersey dog. He has an enviable resume making him very deserving, which Cole describes here from his perspective, with help from his owner, Chris...

I have started my own non-profit organization this year; the Cole the Deaf Dog & Friends Foundation, where I perform free school and community assembly programs across our region. I take my life journey, including special needs and breed discrimination, and turn them into life lessons that inspire others to change the way the world thinks of those with disabilities.


Outside of my daily work at school, I am the mascot of the NJ Veterans Memorial Home where I have earned the Presidential Silver Service Award for over 600 volunteer hours. Believe it or not, I’m even an avid bowler with the residents! I am a hospice therapy dog companion and look forward to my third annual Kindness Tour, where I spend a week in the summer visiting multiple facilities across the state each day.


I’d like to dedicate this step of my journey to all those pups and people who have been overlooked because they were born a little different. I will help the world see the able rather than the label.

Join me in voting for Cole the deaf dog from South Jersey as this year's winner in the American Humane Hero Dog Awards.

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