Help Four Alaqua Alumni Canines Win 2019 American Humane Hero Dog Awards


Alaqua Animal Refuge recently announced that four Alaqua alumni dogs have been nominated for the national American Humane Hero Dog Awards, which recognizes the extraordinary acts of heroism performed by ordinary dogs.

Each of the four Alaqua dogs nominated found their second chance at Alaqua, and are now living in loving homes where they continue to prosper and touch many lives.

Congratulations to the following sweet dogs (click on their names to vote): Elsa, Rufus, Saylor, and Sunni.


Elsa, a therapy dog living in Niceville, is a 10-year old Great Pyrenees that is trained as a registered therapy dog. She works with her owner four days a week at the Niceville Children’s Advocacy Center, The Manor in Bluewater Bay, Rocky Bayou Elementary School, and the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport. She has become a hero to thousands of children and adults with her over 230 (and counting) therapy dog visits. Elsa is also the biggest hero to her own family since her owner’s son was diagnosed with cancer. Through his chemotherapy treatments and fight for his life, Elsa has provided love, support and hope for the entire family. VOTE FOR ELSA!


Rufus, a senior bloodhound, came to Alaqua after neighbors living nearby in Panama City discovered he was living on his own. Sadly, his family had evacuated during Hurricane Michael without him. Seven weeks after the horrific storm had passed, Rufus had returned to the only home he had known, where neighbors found him trying to survive however he could. He was deplorable, emaciated, and his eyes oozed with fungus. At Alaqua, Rufus found shelter, safety, and a second chance, including the dire medical attention he so terribly needed. This past February, Rufus joined a loving hospice family and home where he will live the remainder of his years in comfort, and most importantly, being loved. VOTE FOR RUFUS!


Saylor, lives in Panama City with her incredible forever mom, who just so happens to be one of Alaqua’s amazing and giving volunteers. Sadly, Saylor’s human mom lost her home during Hurricane Michael, causing her to surrender her pets to Alaqua in an effort to give them a better life while she tried to rebuild her life and relocate. Saylor had sustained internal damage to her little body and tests showed her diaphragm was impaired and her intestines were not situated in her chest properly, making it hard for her breathe. She also had a broken pelvic bone and tail. Determined to give this little girl the best possible second chance, Alaqua provided medical care to fix her internal issues. During a critical time of aftercare, Saylor was initially fostered but soon fit right in with the family’s “pack of pets” and was adopted quickly into their home. Despite the odds, Saylor is doing magnificent and is very active playing and running with her new human and dog family. VOTE FOR SAYLOR!


Sunni, a tiny Yorkshire Terrier, was found living outside in a rough neighborhood after she was abandoned by her owners. With no use of her rear legs, she was dragging herself around outside with no home and no care. Alaqua heard about Sunni and arranged transportation for her to be brought to the Refuge from two states away. Sunni underwent medical care for skin disease and a urinary infection, and tests showed Sunni had an atrophied spinal cord and her rear paralysis could not be corrected. Alaqua volunteers banded together and procured a wheelchair, especially made for Sunni, and she took off as fast as she could once initially strapped in! Alaqua’s veterinarian, Dr. Amy Williams fostered her for five months before Sunni found her forever home. Sunni changed our belief on dogs with disabilities, and is the epitome of what positive attitude and a zest for life can do—no matter what circumstances stood in her way. VOTE FOR SUNNI!

The American Humane Hero Dog  competition is divided into seven categories: 1) Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, 2) Service Dogs, 3) Therapy Dogs, 4) Military Dogs, 5) Guide/Hearing Dogs, 6) Search and Rescue Dogs, 7) Shelter Dogs. There are three voting time periods including Semi-finalist, Category winner, and 2019 American Hero Dog winner.

As a result of each of their touching, individual stories, all four of these incredible animals are nominated in the Semi-Finalist round for their specific category — Elsa (therapy dog) and Rufus, Saylor, and Sunni (shelter dog). The first round of Semi-Finalist voting ends May 2, 2019 at 12 p.m. (Pacific time).

For more info, visit American Humane Hero Dog Awards. Learn more about Alaqua Animal Refuge here.

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