service dog, SpiritAfter more than 300,000 votes cast by American dog lovers, the top pooches have been elected for the first Hero Dog Awards show tonight in Los Angeles.

Eight top dogs selected after weeks of voting will vie to become the grand prize-winning American Hero Dog.

One dog was chosen in each of these categories:

— Law Enforcement and Arson Dogs
— Service Dogs
— Therapy Dogs
— Military Dogs
— Guide Dogs
— Search and Rescue Dogs
— Hearing Dogs
— Ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things.

“Every dog nominated is a bona fide hero,” says Robin Ganzert, President and CEO of American Humane Association. “Every day, across America, dogs protect, comfort, and give their unconditional friendship and affection to the ill, the infirm, the wounded veteran, and the frightened child. Dogs have truly been our best friends and it is time to recognize that friendship and celebrate the heroic feats they perform for us daily.”

Tonight’s Hero Dog Award celebrity gala, sponsored by the American Humane Association, will be taped and broadcast later on the Hallmark Channel on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2011 in a 90-minute special.

Hosted by Carson Kressley of “Carson Nation” and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”, the show will feature celebrity judges and presenters like Betty White, Victoria Stilwell, Whoopi Goldberg, Hayden Panettierre and Joe Manganiello.

To read about the eight finalists visit

(READ more at MSNBC)

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