Eight courageous canines have been named finalists in the 2015 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards after nearly 1 million votes cast by animal lovers across the country and a celebrity panel of dog lovers and experts. These heroic canines each took top honors in their individual categories from a field of 171 initial nominees, and now America’s voters and a celebrity judging panel will determine which dog will take home top honors.

The eight finalists will be flown to Los Angeles to take part in the star-studded Hero Dog Awards gala in September at the Beverly Hilton. This must-watch event for animal lovers will be broadcast as a two-hour special by Hallmark Channel in October.

The eight category winners for 2015 are: Rambo (Converse, TX) in the Military Dogs category; Glory (Evansville, WI) in the Arson Dogs category; Axel (Fredericksburg, VA) in the Service Dogs category; Harley (Berthoud, CO) in the Emerging Hero Dogs category; Dax (Ashland, MA) in the Law Enforcement Dogs category; Glory (Sun Valley, CA) in the Search and Rescue Dogs category; Chara (Waynesboro, VA) in the Guide/Hearing Dogs category; and Hudson (Castleton, NY) in the Therapy Dogs category.

The final eight will each win $2,500 for their designated charity partner and the winning 2015 American Hero Dog’s charity partner will receive an additional $5,000 for a grand total of $7,500.

“The American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards celebrate the important role dogs play in our lives,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Association president and CEO. “The American public and our special judging panel now have an extraordinarily tough task ahead of them in determining who our top dog will be because all are worthy winners.”

Over the past four years, millions of votes have been cast for nearly a thousand dogs, all seeking the title of American Hero Dog. The program reaches more than 1 billion people each year and draws the support and participation of top celebrity dog lovers from all over the world. Hosts, judges, award presenters, and entertainment acts have included Victoria Stilwell, Betty White, Whoopi Goldberg, Lisa Vanderpump, Mickey Rooney, Burt Reynolds, Chelsea Handler, Martin Short, Jewel, Wilson Phillips, Carson Kressley, Miranda Lambert, Kristin Chenoweth, Naomi Judd, Hugh Jackman, Gary Sinise, and many more.

“It is an honor to support an effort to recognize the valor of our ‘best friends,’” said philanthropist Lois Pope, who has been the awards’ presenting sponsor for four years. “From those who defend our country to those who help us heal, guide us, protect us, and help find the lost, every single contender exemplifies the courage and heroism we seek to spotlight in the Hero Dog Awards campaign. Through this national forum we have helped educate America about the lifesaving, life-affirming work of our nation’s canine heroes.”

The public is invited to cast one vote per day through September 7 at www.HeroDogAwards.org.