USO of Missouri therapy dog up for ‘Hero Dog’ award

ST. LOUIS - Dogs are known as man's best friend and one particular therapy dog with the USO of Missouri has a friend in all he meets. Now he needs your help to win a special award.

Bandit, a German Great Dane, is lucky to be alive. He was rescued almost 8 years ago, moments before he was going to be euthanized due to health concerns. He has undergone multiple surgeries, leaving him with 2 plates, 20 screws in his hind legs, and a slight paw deformity. This has helped him support our wounded warriors as a USO therapy dog for the last 7 years.

"They see those scars, they see his deformities, they see that as almost enhancing their journey. And if he can do it, they can do it," said Kelly Brownfield, the Western Missouri Regional Operations Director and Bandit's human.

Brownfield said they are so blessed that they rescued Bandit and gave him a chance at living.

"He had a tumor-like growth from his neck and we took him back to Fort Leonard Wood and found out it was just a little piece of wood lodged into the back of his tooth that created an abscess that had to be lanced and drained and that was it," she said.

Bandit has been giving back ever since.

"He travels back and forth to the east coast, we work with Walter Reed, he actually helps the soldiers that are having their legs fitted for their first time, so if those legs fall off during the fitting, they can counteract on him," Brownfield said.

He's also there for children at their hardest moments.

"He actually escorts the children to the burial of their parents at Arlington Cemetery and sits with those children during those times. That's a very hard time for everyone involved," Brownfield said.

Bandit is at hospitals on a daily basis, working with military at Fort Leonard Wood's USO to make the soldiers happy.

"A lot of our military service men and women have not seen their own dogs in weeks or months and just being able to come into a facility and hug someone like Bandit just brings them right back to home," Brownfield said.

Because of his service, Brownfield is up for the American Humane Hero Dog Awards.

"He is in the final top 3 therapy dogs in the country, so now what we need is for the public to vote. And if he wins this round they send him to Hollywood as the number one therapy dog in the world and from there we hope they will name him the top hero dog in the country," Brownfield said.

Voting is currently underway through July 18 and you can vote once a day. Log on to www.herodogawards.org/dog/bandit to vote!

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