Hansel, a dog who has beaten the odds his whole life, is in the running to advance to the finals in the American Humane Hero Dog Awards®, a nationwide effort to identify and honor the best of our best friends.

Hansel was only 7 weeks old when he was seized from an alleged dog fighting ring in Ontario, Canada. He never fought. He along with 20 other Pitbulls were slated for euthanasia.

Luckily, Hansel was rescued by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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He was removed from the dog-fighting ring together with his mom and his sister, Gretel. The rescued pups were later taken to Throw Away Dogs Project, a Philadelphia-based non-profit organization that rescues misunderstood dogs and grooms them into becoming police dogs.

Hansel, known for generously giving kisses and for his endless energy, trained with Throw Away Dogs for a year before enrolling in a K-9 academy with his handler, Tyler Van Leer.

After 16 weeks, Hansel became a certified arson detection K-9 officer for the Millville Fire Department, the first Pitbull certified in accelerant detection in the United States. Van Leer says Hansel can recognize 14 different ignitable liquid odors, like kerosene, gasoline, and diesel.

Now 6-six-year old, Hansel is one of 21 dogs with a chance to advance from the initial field of 400 pups to the final round of 7. Hansel represents the Law Enforcement category.

Animal lovers are now invited to visit HeroDogAwards.org until 3pm on July 15 to vote once per day in each of seven Hero Dog categories: Therapy Dogs; Service Dogs; Military Dogs; Law Enforcement Dogs; Shelter Dogs; Search and Rescue Dogs; and Guide/Hearing Dogs.

The winning dog in each category will take part in the nationally televised Hero Dog Awards this fall on the Hallmark Channel and will be celebrated at a gala in their honor in Palm Beach on November 12.

People Magazine did a feature on Hansel in 2020, talking with Tyler Van Leer, who said he was excited to be working with Hansel, telling the outlet it felt like fate when they met.

“It was like an instant bond—his little head poked around the corner and it was like an instant connection. You could feel it.'

Vote for Hansel here

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