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U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert C. Bonner Awards Medal for Service and Dogs Put Paw Prints in Cement to Create Canine World Heroes “Walk of Fame” ben in New York

NEW YORK, NY, September 29, 2004 – America’s top service dogs demonstrate that heroes come in all shapes and sizes as a small but courageous beagle and a large but gentle Newfoundland were named as the top-voted U.S. service dogs in the Pedigree Paws to Recognize program. Trouble, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture detector dog, and Gentle Ben, a Pet Assisted Therapy dog with the Delta Society® Pet Partners® program, were honored today along with U.S. canine hero runners-up and canine heroes from other countries at a special Canine World Heroes Tribute. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert C. Bonner helped to present medals to the winning dogs and watched as the dogs placed their paw prints in cement to create a Hollywood style Canine World Heroes Walk of Fame. Created by PEDIGREE® Food For Dogs in partnership with Wal-Mart, the program recognizes the valuable contributions that 15,000 professionally trained service dogs make to our lives each day from giant teddy bears of dogs like Newfoundlands to feisty Snoopy-esque beagles. The event took place at the McGraw-Hill Building Mini-Park courtesy of The Rockefeller Group.
“ ‘Trouble’ and ‘Gentle Ben’ represent the best qualities of all service dogs,” said Alice Nathanson, spokesperson for Masterfoods USA, makers of PEDIGREE. “They are loving, valued companions and partners and, at the same time, skilled veterans with hundreds of hours of training and an unflinching commitment to their work. As a company that really loves dogs, we are pleased with the success of the Pedigree Paws to Recognize program and we are proud to support these wonderful dogs and the men and women who train them.”
Career Highlights of the winning U.S. Canine Heroes include:

• Trouble: A proud member of the elite Beagle Brigade at Miami International Airport, Trouble and his partner Canine Officer Sherrie Ann Keblish are helping to safeguard America’s agriculture resources by intercepting prohibited fruits, vegetables, meats and animal byproducts that could carry foreign pests or diseases that could be introduced into the United States. Trouble and his partner recorded 115 notable interceptions and prevented a potential disaster for Florida’s citrus industry by sniffing out a quince fruit, which was infested with 20 Ceratitis Capitata larva (Mediterranean fruit fly).

new york ben • Gentle Ben: As part of the Delta Society® Pet Partners® program, Gentle Ben does his best work “behind bars.” At a juvenile detention center in Washington State, the 165-pound Newfoundland works with his partner Pat Dowell to assist youngsters, many of whom have been abused by their trusted human caregivers. Ben helps the youths learn confidence, trust, responsibility, patience and skills that can help them later in life.At a local medical center, Ben visits patients in the pediatrics, rehabilitation,
psychiatric and radiation oncology units. Ben’s gentle presence relieves stress in both kids with serious illness and their parents and puts smiles on lots of faces.

Selected from a total of six U.S. canine finalists representing Search & Rescue Dogs, Police Dogs, Guide Dogs and Military Dogs, Trouble and Gentle Ben received the most votes from the 100,000 Americans across the country who logged on to to vote in the Pedigree Paws to Recognize program. Voting began in April and ran through Labor Day.
In addition to the United States, outstanding National Canine World Heroes honored at today’s tribute included: “Sandy,” an animal-assisted therapy dog from South Korea and “Sam,” a search and rescue dog from Germany.

This is the second year for the Pedigree Paws to Recognize program. “Crazy Joe,” a narcotic detector dog for the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, assigned to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, was the program’s 2003 U.S. Canine Hero representative having uncovered a total of over $10,826,474 worth of illegal drugs.

Masterfoods USA, the United States food, snack and petcare operations of Mars, Incorporated, is one of the world’s leading food manufacturers. With more than $5 billion in annual sales, the combined food, snack and petcare segments are a symbol of excellence for quality brands. Headquartered in Hackettstown, NJ, Masterfoods USA employs more than 7,000 associates in the United States, with 15 manufacturing facilities nationwide. The company owns some of the world’s favorite brands including M&M’S® Brand, SNICKERS® Brand, UNCLE BEN’S® Brand, PEDIGREE® Brand Food For Dogs, WHISKAS® Brand Food For Cats.

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