spcaLA National Hero dog award given to dog who prevented kidnapping

First-time courage award also given to local dog

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Los Angeles (spcaLA), California gave its 18th Annual Hero Dog Award to "Rocky," a Rhodesian Ridgeback from Pennsylvania.

Rocky received the award at a ceremony held at the Pedigree Great LA Dog Walk in Griffith Park on October 7, 2000. The award consisted of a plaque from spcaLA, a year's supply of PEDIGREE Food For Dogs, and a goodie bag from PEDIGREE filled with treats. Rocky and his human companions, Joan Staples and her daughter Laura, were proud to lead the dog walk.

Here's how Rocky earned his award: During a late Sunday night while the Staples slept in their Hatboro, PA home, they were startled by the screams of their 8-year-old daughter, Laura. An intruder and known sex offender had snatched her from her bedroom and was carrying her down the stairs as he covered her mouth trying to prevent her from screaming. All Laura could do in the midst of her restrained horror was to kick her bedroom door as the intruder carried her out. It was this hard sound that woke Rocky from a deep sleep on the third floor and alerted him that something was wrong.

Rocky flew down two flights of stairs and threw his massive body against the man. The would-be kidnapper then dropped Laura and ran with Rocky in close pursuit. Rocky managed to bite the intruder numerous times before racing back to check on Laura, who frantically screamed in the comfort of her parent's arms.

The intruder had managed to escape, but was soon found by police in a nearby park, bleeding from multiple wounds.

"Rocky has spared our family an unspeakable horror," says Joan Staples, Laura's mother. "There's no way we can overstate our gratitude for his bravery and quick response."

According to Madeline Bernstein, president of spcaLA, "This act of protection by the family dog is directly related to the fact that the dog is loved and cared for by his family. His act to protect a member of his pack is instinctual; protecting Laura was instinctual because he is a true member of the Staples pack."

"For years, we at the PEDIGREE brand have promoted the joys of dog ownership and the important role pets play in our lives," says Alice Nathanson, External Relations Manager for PEDIGREE. "For many of us, the care we give to our pets sometimes seems to be the prime focus of our relationships with them; we see ourselves as caretakers. And every once in a while, something wonderful happens - something big like what Rocky has done, or something small like an enthusiastic welcome at the end of a trying day - that reminds us that our pets also care for us.

"That's why we're saluting Rocky's heroism and his courage, and thanking him for reminding us that our pets are always there for us."

The Courage Award goes to King Arthur

In conjunction with this year's Hero Dog award, spcaLA also presented a first-time Courage Award to a stray dog named King Arthur for assisting his companion dog, Annie. In this act of courage, King Arthur, who roamed the streets with Annie, another stray, courageously protected Annie when a car struck her.

It was after Annie had been struck and lay injured on the road that King Arthur circled her body, causing cars to go around her. He dragged her by the neck and pulled her out from the street, just as a mother would have lifted a puppy.

spcaLA commended King Arthur for his courageous act by presenting him with a Certificate of Courage and other prizes.

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