The Hero Dogs Award are held to select eight dogs who are awarded for their outstanding bravery. Voting for the 2016 Hero Dog Awards is officially open.

Not unlike humans, dogs are capable of overcoming some pretty horrible tragedies. Take Susie the Pitbull puppy, for instance. When she licked her own owner’s child, the owner beat her so hard, he knocked out her teeth and broke her jaw. Her body was then set on fire.

But Susie overcame all odds and miraculously survived. With the help of a few human caretakers who treated the third-degree burns covering her body that had also been infested with maggots, she fought hard to live – and live she did. Now living a happy life with owner Donna, Susie is now a certified therapy dog who visits schools, hospitals and churches to bring messages of respect , kindness and responsibility. Her incredible story is what made her the 2014 Hero Dog in the “Therapy” category.

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This year’s voting rounds are dedicated to 2015 Hero Dog Haley, who recently passed away. Harley was a one-eyed chihuahua who endured 10 long years of abuse in a puppy mill before being rescued by Rudi and Dan Taylor. Together, Rudi, Dan and Harley rescue hundreds of dogs from puppy mills in hopes of giving them a new lease on life.

The voting is broken down into eight categories, for which many dogs are nominated but only a total of eight can win. The categories are Law Enforcement, Military, Arson, Therapy, Service, Emerging Hero, Search & Rescue and Guide/Hearing dogs. This contest reaches more than 1 billion people each year and draws support from not only dog lovers, but also celebrities who also love to help out such a worthy cause. Past hosts, award presenters, judges and entertainment acts have included Whoopi Goldberg, Denise Richards, Betty White, Miranda Lambert and many, many more.

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Over the past five years, Americans have cast millions of votes for nearly a thousand dogs who all desire the yearn for the title of American Hero Dog. Of the thousands that are nominated, only eight will win. Those eight are given $2,500 to give to the charity that is designated for that particular category, plus an additional $5,000 for the winner themselves.

Voting for the 2016 Hero Dog Awards is now open! Head on over to HeroDogAwards, read up on all eligible dogs and vote for your favorite.

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