Sign In

Hero Dog Award

May 5, 2020

A local mobility service animal and his military family hope their community will help them beat out several other canines to win a coveted national award.

S.D. Gunner, who has assisted Army veteran and Richmond Hill resident Sgt. Hamilton Kinard since June 2013, is up for an American Humane Hero Dog Award.

The award is all about recognizing “hero dogs” — ordinary canines doing extraordinary things, according to American Humane’s website.

The 7-year-old Great Pyrenees is nominated in the service dog category, one of the annual competition’s seven award groups, which also include law enforcement, therapy and shelter dogs.

“Gunner has been nominated in the past, but we’ve never made it past the first round because it’s based solely off of individual voting,” Britnee Kinard, president and founder of the S.D. Gunner Fund, told WSAV.com NOW.

American Humane reached out to the Kinards this year to let them know their devoted service dog would have yet another shot at winning.

Brittnee says since Gunner’s life expectancy is only 10 years, she and her husband, Hamilton, decided they would move forward with participating.

The service dog’s work with Hamilton over the past seven years helped him get nominated.

Hamilton had returned from combat abroad with no less than 56 injuries, including a severe traumatic brain injury.

“We got Gunner after the Department of Veterans Affairs determined that my husband needed a mobility service animal to help him get around,” Britnee said.

“At that point in time, he was using a wheelchair and a couple of other mobility devices, and they felt that Gunner would be of great usage towards him,” she said.

Gunner has helped Hamiliton with balance, wheelchair/walker assistance and mobility strength.

Nearly a decade later, the large and furry white dog has grown not only in size — but into an integral part of the Kinard family.

“He is one of my kids,” Hamilton told WSAV.com NOW.

Britnee adds that it’s nearly impossible to go anywhere with Gunner without being recognized.

“It’s not Blayne’s mom, Maks’ mom, the Kinards, it’s ‘hey, you’re the people with the big, white dog,’” she shared. “We don’t go anywhere without him, he literally does everything we do, and I don’t think we ever want to think about the day that he won’t be here.”

Gunner inspired Britnee to start the SD Gunner Fund in 2014.

It serves to help veterans and disabled children with the financial expenses of owning much-needed service animals.

Through the Fund, they also train and provide service dogs to those that need them.

“As an organization, [Gunner] represents so much,” Britnee said.

“We’ve probably assisted somewhere around 10,000 children and families in the Lowcountry, working with pediatric facilities, hospitals, school systems and working individually,” she said, adding, “Yes, he’s our service dog, but he does so much more than that.”

Gunner’s owners say their service animal, which was the first Great Pyrenees ever to win the American Kennel Club’s Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence, has broken a lot of barriers for his breed.

“He’s not a lab, he’s not a golden retriever, he’s not a standard dog that you would see as a service dog,” Britnee said.

“When we first got started, there were so many people that told us a Great Pyrenees could not be a service dog because they’re difficult, they’re stubborn, they’re hard-headed,” she added.

Britnee says Gunner winning the Hero Dog Award would bring recognition to dogs that oftentimes get overlooked.

“To my knowledge, he would be the first Great Pyrenees to win [the service dog] category,” she said.

Votes for the first round can be submitted through May 7, 2020, and the Kinards will find out toward the end of summer if Gunner has won his category.

The winners’ award ceremony will be held in Hollywood in September.

Register Your Dog

  • Most Recent News

    Big Dogs Need Owners

    When the shutdown orders took full effect, it became nearly impossible to find a small dog available for adoption as Southlanders sought furry companions. In many Southland shelters, only larger breeds remained available for adoption. Now Los Angeles Animal Service is touting the joys of big dogs while offering discounted adoption fees for larger breeds […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Walkathon

    On Saturday, October 3, hundreds of walkers from across 15 states joined the path to bettering the world for children with autism and their families as part of BluePath Service Dogs’ fourth annual walkathon. The family-friendly fundraiser – this year held virtually – raised more than $120,000 to further BluePath’s mission of providing autism service […]

    Read more

    Service Dog In The Marching Band

    In a year that is anything but normal, the Jones College Maroon Typhoon Marching Band has welcomed its first known service dog member this fall. Laurie, a 3-year-old golden retriever, is baritone saxophone player Sara-Beth McKellar’s service dog. The Vicksburg native was diagnosed with epilepsy as a sophomore in high school after her first seizure. […]

    Read more

    Church Blesses Animals

    St. Mary’s Church of the Immaculate Conception in Port Jervis hosted a special outdoor service last Sunday afternoon to bless the community’s pets, animals and other living creatures. In keeping with current pandemic rules, pet owners wore masks, remained distant, and took part in praying for dogs, cats, turtles, and other pets and animals around […]

    Read more

    Police Welcome New Canine

    After the unexpected passing of longtime Police Service Dog Zeus earlier this week, Kingston Police are welcoming a new member to the Canine Unit. Police Service Dog Bask, also known as K9-8, is a Dutch Shepherd and Belgium Malinois mix, and will be patrolling the streets of Kingston with his handler Constable Jeff Dickson. Bask […]

    Read more

    Dog Park For Travelers

    St. Petersburg is widely recognized as a dog-friendly city, and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport is making sure its four-legged visitors and their humans feel welcome by rolling out the artificial turf carpet. With the completion of the airport’s parking and roadway project – part of a series of multi-million dollar improvements at the airport over the […]

    Read more