Dogs may be nominated for the Hero Dog Awards in eight categories: Law Enforcement & Arson Dogs; Service Dogs; Therapy Dogs; Military Dogs; Guide Dogs; Search and Rescue Dogs; Hearing Dogs; and Emerging Hero Dogs (the category for ordinary dogs).
Finalists in each of the eight categories will be selected by the public from the pool of contestants, and flown to Hollywood with two of their human friends to the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™ gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, California on October 6, 2012. There they will walk the red carpet, attend the show which will be broadcast on the Hallmark Channel, and will be recognized in a video tribute at the black-tie gala where the winning American Hero Dog will be announced. Nominations close on March 26, 2012 and voting by the general public will begin on April 1, 2012.
Finalists in each category will be judged by a blue-ribbon panel consisting of both celebrities and animal experts, to determine the winning American Hero Dog.