Guide dog named American Hero Dog

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Roselle, the guide dog who led her blind master safely down 78 flights of stairs following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, is the 2011 American Hero Dog.

The six-month, nationwide search for the first American Humane Association American Hero Dog entailed more than 450 nominees, hundreds of thousands of votes, and consideration by a panel of judges (see JAVMA, May 1, 2011).

Hingson and Roselle
Michael Hingson and Roselle (Courtesy of American Humane Association)

The search culminated in an Oct. 1 awards ceremony in Beverly Hills, Calif., where Roselle was chosen from among eight canine finalists. Sadly, Roselle passed away this summer. Her heroic work during the 9/11 attacks lives on, however.

Roselle's owner, Michael Hingson of Novato, Calif., wrote about how the dog led him to safety after the plane crashed into the north tower of the WTC, where he was working on the 78th floor: "From the outset, Roselle guided and did her job perfectly. While others in my office saw fire above us, Roselle did not panic. Because of Roselle's calm demeanor I knew we could evacuate in an orderly manner. She remained focused as we went to the stairwell and traveled down 1,463 stairs to the first floor. Her poise helped me remain calm as we lead others down to safety."

Each of the eight finalists received $5,000 to donate to one of the AHA's charity partners. Roselle won an additional $10,000 for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

The awards ceremony was broadcast nationwide Nov. 11 on the Hallmark Channel.