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American Kennel Club Announces One Million Hartz Heroes

The American Kennel Club celebrates another milestone for the “Help a Hero™” toy program: one million dog toys modeled after Search and Rescue dogs have been sold nationwide, contributing over one million dollars to the American Kennel Club Companion Animal Recovery (AKC/CAR) Canine Support and Relief Fund. The Help a Hero toy was created by the Hartz Mountain Corporation, a major sponsor of the AKC’s DOGNY™ program.

DOGNY™ is a charitable initiative that raises much needed resources for professional and volunteer canine search and rescue (SAR) dog organizations throughout the United States. The AKC supports SAR dog organizations with grants from the AKC/CAR Canine Support and Relief Fund while promoting awareness of their vital public service.

“Search and rescue dogs came into the spotlight most recently after the attacks on September 11, 2001. But few people are aware of how instrumental SAR dogs are in maintaining the safety and security of our communities on a daily basis,” explained Dennis B. Sprung, CEO of the American Kennel Club. “The AKC Board of Directors set out to acknowledge and bring support to the canine search and rescue community, because what they do is a labor of love. We are delighted that Hartz shares our vision to pay tribute to America’s search and rescue dogs.”

Through the unique Help a Hero™ program, Hartz contributes a dollar to the AKC/CAR Canine Support and Relief Fund for every toy sold. These contributions are earmarked to benefit canine search and rescue organizations throughout the nation.

"We were all moved by the unique role that working dogs played in the search and rescue efforts brought on by the events of September 11, as well as the role they play in helping locate missing children and adults everyday,” states Alan Kerzner, Corporate Vice President of Marketing at The Hartz Mountain Corporation. “Hartz® is honored to have partnered with the American Kennel Club to raise our largest corporate contribution ever, over $1,000,000, through its unique ‘Help a Hero™’ DOGNY™ campaign. These monies will help ensure that the Search and Rescue Canine teams throughout the U.S. will be able to continue their valuable work.”

Now in a second edition, these special plush toys have become popular collectibles. The 2004 series includes "Scout," TM a German Shepherd Dog, and "Ranger," TM a Bloodhound.

Net proceeds from the DOGNY™ program benefit America's search and rescue dog organizations through the AKC/CAR Canine Support and Relief Fund. Contributions to DOGNY™ are fully tax deductible under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code.

To find out more about DOGNY™ and to purchase Help a Hero toys, please visit www.akc.org.