A special pup named Olive is the 2020 Therapy Hero Dog of the Year. Olive started her life hopeless and homeless, living by herself in the street of Los Angeles. It was here that she was found and rescued by Brandon McMillan, host and animal trainer of the Emmy Award winning CBS show, Lucky Dog.
It was through Brandon that Olive met her future handler, Lisa, a child advocate volunteer for abused and neglected children in the judicial system in Missouri. Lisa saw the need for a resource to assist scores of children facing the daunting task of appearing or testifying in court – a stressful and anxiety-ridden situation for any child. At no fault of their own, these vulnerable children are facing unknown proceedings because an adult failed to care for them properly. Lisa saw an amazing opportunity for Olive, and after extensive training, Olive was sent to Missouri to be united with her forever family, ready to live her purpose as a certified therapy dog.
Olive’s mission is to ensure that no child walks alone through the doors of the courtroom. Olive provides comfort throughout the scary and lengthy journey that the child faces against their abuser or neglecting adult, which in most cases is their very own parent(s).
Olive has served more than 300 children since she started working in the court system in 2016, and she continues to assist children with extremely difficult criminal trials. Olive is a hero to many children in Missouri who have been through unimaginable hardships. Olive provides them with unconditional love, which may have been lacking in their lives to begin with.
The Therapy Hero Dog category is sponsored by the World Pet Association. Founded in 1950, WPA is the pet industry’s oldest nonprofit organization. Based in Southern California, WPA coordinates industry-defining trade shows—SuperZoo, Atlanta Pet Fair & Conference and America’s Family Pet Expo, a consumer pet and pet product expo. Through WPA’s Good Works program, proceeds from these events are funneled back into key industry organizations and nonprofits with the goal of making it easier for pet industry professionals to do business. WPA’s mission is to support the business needs of pet retailers and to promote responsible growth and development of the pet industry by providing thought leadership on consumer and legislative issues; leading efforts in the public sector to inform consumers and ensure safe, healthy lifestyles for all animals; and provide business resources, education, content and services to ensure pet product retailers have the support they need to be competitive. Thank you, WPA, for recognizing Olive’s inspiring work in the courtroom.
Voting for the 2020 American Hero Dog closes in just one week – you can vote for Olive at www.herodogawards.org.