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Rescue chihuahua born with a cleft palate is named the American Dog Hero for 2020

This 4-pound Chihuahua named MacKenzie may be small, but she has made a big difference in the lives of other animals and humans.

“Kenz,” as she’s fondly called, is a rescue dog born in Hilton, New York, with a cleft palate. Because of her condition, she needed to be fed via a tube for almost a year. Thankfully, she underwent a life-saving cleft palate surgery that allowed her to drink and eat on her own.

She was also sick for some time and survived several bouts of aspiration pneumonia. Despite being ill, Kenz took on the role of caretaker to the baby animals at The Mia Foundation, a nonprofit in Rochester, New York, that takes in animals born with birth defects.

Most of the animals in the rescue are newborns that couldn’t stay with their mothers because of their medical needs. From day one, Kenz takes an interest in them, regardless of species or size, and mothers them. So far, she’s taken care of puppies, kittens, a goat, a turkey, a squirrel, birds, a mouse, and even a Great Dane.

“She plays nurse and cleans, comforts, & cuddles them. She also acts as their mom and teaches them how to socialize, play, & have good manners,” according to her bio on the American Humane website.

Aside from this, Kenz also interacts with children at schools, so they learn how to be open-minded towards animals and people with physical differences.

She inspires kids to be kind and patient and shows them that no matter how small they are, they can still make a significant difference in the world.

Unfortunately, this dog has lost her ability to bark. But despite that, she still remains an advocate for animals born with disabilities.

This week, after careful deliberations from a panel of judges and over 1 million votes cast by the public, the nonprofit American Humane declared Kenz as the 2020 American Hero Dog at the 10th-anniversary celebration of the American Humane Hero Dog Awards.

Celebrity designer Carson Kressley hosted the event that aims to celebrate the heroism of canines and the powerful bond between humans and dogs.

“The American Humane Hero Dog Awards were created to honor some of the world’s most extraordinary heroes,” Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane, said.

“These heroic canines have gone above and beyond the call of duty… reminding us of the powerful, age-old bond between animals and people.”

The annual competition searches the entire country for the most heroic dogs and shares their stories to inspire others. Dogs compete in seven different categories: shelter, therapy, law enforcement, military, service, search and rescue, and guide/hearing. The winners in each category then made up the finalists for the ultimate American Hero Dog award.

Kenz won the category of shelter dog of the year before being named the top dog of 2020.

With her courageousness, loving heart, and compassion for other animals, MacKenzie definitely deserves this recognition. Congratulations, you good girl!

Share this story with your family and friends to celebrate the importance of dogs in our lives.

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