Malibu Seen: Puppy Love Story

Longtime local Ryan O’Neal speaks on behalf of our four-legged furry friends at the American Humane Association’s 3rd Annual Hero Dog Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Yes, they call it “puppy love” and there was a lot of it at the Beverly Hilton Hotel as locals and other familiar faces gathered for the 2013 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards. This year’s top dog was a therapy pup pit bull named Elle. She got kudos, a shout out and a big bow wow for educating kids about dog safety, reading and tolerance. Elle was named this year’s “American Hero Dog” by the American Humane Association.

The sold-out, star-studded awards presentation honored America’s most courageous canines. It was hosted by Joey Lawrence, and included locals like Ryan O’Neal as well as other high profile presenters and animal lovers like super-senior Betty White, Jennifer Coolidge, Esai Morales, Naomi Judd, Pauley Perrette, Lisa Vanderpump, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Bailee Madison, Rico Rodriguez, Brian Baumgartner, Megan Blake, Max Carver, Torrey DeVitto, Matt Leinart, Lauren Potter, Eric Christian Olsen, Ben Savage, Austin Stowell, Chef Michael Voltaggio, Danielle Fishel, Lori Loughlin and Daphne Zuniga. They all sauntered in as Jenni Pulos and Lisa Vanderpump greeted them on the red carpet. But the big star of the night was Elle, who is credited with saving lives by teaching children about dog safety.

Since becoming a volunteer, Elle started a therapy dog reading program called “Tail Wagging Tales.” Believe it or not, this awesome pup has somehow managed to teach children to enjoy books and improve their reading skills. Elle is also making a difference by visiting friends at an elementary school, a middle school and a retirement home. Elle also reaches out to educate families about being responsible pet parents. Her human companions educate groups about the importance of Elle’s job as a therapy dog, and spread positive awareness about dogs that are misunderstood, like pit bulls.

Frankie Moreno set the tone with a stirring musical performance but the highlight was a medley of original songs written especially for the animals. Billboard recording artist Shara Strand also belted out a moving performance of “I Will Carry You,” which she sang with the American Humane Association in mind.

The Hero Dog Awards were created to celebrate the powerful relationship with two-legged companions and to recognize extraordinary acts of heroism performed by our four-legged friends. The event raised thousands of dollars for the organization. It’s all the more reason to show appreciation for man’s best friend. Woof!