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Winners of the Fourth Annual Dogs of Valor Awards

Meet the loving dogs who showed the strength of the bond between pets and people

  • Yogi, Fourth Annual Valor Dog of the Year and People's Hero.  Paul Horton.

  • Sarge, First Runner Up, Valor Dog of the Year.  The Claypool Family.

  • Gangsta, Second Runner Up, Valor Dog of the Year.  Kathleen Lowery.

We are pleased to announce the winners of the Fourth Annual Dogs of Valor Awards. Our panel of celebrity judges, including Charlotte Ross, Chris Riggi, and Jon Prescott, chose the Fourth Annual Valor Dog of the Year and Runners Up. You chose the People's Hero! 

Scroll through the image slider to see this year's winning dogs and visit the Pets of Valor Hall of Fame to meet past winners.



Valor Dog of the Year and People's Hero

Owner: Paul Horton
Austin, TX

Paul Horton and his 4-year-old golden retriever, Yogi, set out to exercise—Horton biked while Yogi trotted beside him. While on a mountain trail a few blocks from home, Horton hit a bump, flipped over the handlebars and landed on his head. He was paralyzed.

For the next 45 minutes, Yogi refused to leave. When Horton told Yogi to go home, he instead went to the top of the hill where the trail met the road and barked furiously. When Horton’s neighbors took their dog for a walk nearby, they were drawn by Yogi’s barking and out-of-character agitation. Once they drew closer, Yogi ran down the hill, leading them to where Horton lay. Once they reached Horton, Yogi stood sentry.

Even when the paramedics arrived, Yogi refused to leave Horton’s side. After surgery and countless tests, Horton found out he had broken a vertebra and was paralyzed from the chest down. But without quick treatment, his injury would have been even worse. Horton is still receiving treatment, but each time he returns home from the hospital, Yogi stays glued to his side.

First Runner Up, Valor Dog of the Year

Owners: The Claypool Family
Forsyth, IL

Doug Claypool wanted to read his book. So around 9:00 p.m., he left his family watching TV and went into his room, taking his 3-year-old German shepherd, Sarge, with him and closing the door.

He fell asleep, but Sarge woke him around midnight by barking at the bedroom door. When Claypool opened the door to investigate, Sarge raced down the hallway, sniffing the air. He suddenly stopped and made a u-turn back down the hallway to Claypool's 15-year-old daughter's room. Sarge sniffed the door, then scratched and growled at it. Claypool tried to open door, but someone inside the room was holding it shut.

Claypool ran to another part of the house and grabbed his handgun. He then forced his daughter's door open, and ordered the intruder to get on the floor. Sarge started towards the unknown man, but Claypool called him back and held the intruder at gunpoint until sheriff's deputies arrived. Claypool's daughter had remained asleep when the man was in her room. 

Second Runner Up, Valor Dog of the Year

Owners: The Lowery Family
Selden, NY

Debra Lowery was taking a shower before work when the violent epileptic seizure hit. As the 21-year old lost consciousness, she knocked both the bathtub's drain lever and hot water faucet, closing the drain and  sending scalding water cascading over her head and body.

That's when Lowery's father and sisters heard Gangsta, the family's 5-year-old Pomeranian, barking and howling outside the bathroom door. They ran upstairs to investigate, and they found Debra floating in the tub with one nostril barely exposed while blistering water poured over her head and face. When her sisters tried to pull her out of the tub, Lowry's skin peeled off her body.

Lowery underwent three surgeries during her 38-day stay in an intensive care burn unit to treat the second and third degree burns that covered her body from hip to scalp. She will undergo more reconstructive plastic surgery within the next year.

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