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Ethan named 2022 American Humane Hero Dog

Ethan 4
Courtesy Of Kentucky Humane Society
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Ethan has reached his goal weight of 80 pounds and continues to improve.

It’s been nearly two years since Ethan the dog was found emaciated and near death outside the Kentucky Humane Society (KHS). Since then, he has amassed national attention and continues to garner awards.

Most recently, Ethan was named the 2022 American Humane Hero Dog. The animal welfare nonprofit’s annual awards recognize dogs across seven categories for the impact they have in their communities and the lives of people around them. Ethan previously won American Humane’s Shelter Hero Dog category before being voted top dog.

“This year’s finalists have gone above and beyond the call of duty, saving lives on the battlefield, comforting children and seniors, and inspiring us to overcome our own challenges,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “All are heroes, but I am overjoyed to congratulate Ethan on winning this year’s top title!” 

Ethan captured the attention of Louisville and surrounding communities after KHS began posting updates about him soon after he was found in January 2021

In the nearly two year since, Ethan has gained national recognition for his recovery. 

“He just has a way with connecting with people. The people that love Ethan and his extended family that follow him are just so passionate about him,” Ethan’s owner Jeff Callaway said.

Callaway, facilities manager at KHS, met Ethan the day he was found outside the shelter. Callaway connected with the dog from that first meeting and, after adopting him, made it a point to keep people updated about Ethan’s recovery. 

“I keep people up-to-date on how he’s doing, because people love to hear what’s going on with Ethan. Anywhere where he can be a positive influence, we’ll be there,” Callaway said.

Callaway said Ethan’s rise to prominence at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic offered positivity for folks looking for good news in a rapidly changing and uncertain situation.

As Ethan recovered, Callaway said his personality emerged more and more. One trait that was most clear was how open Ethan was to people, despite his history.

“No matter what he had been through, whether it was the abuse, the neglect or the starving, he still showed that kindness to people,” Callaway said.

Ethan’s story brought more attention to KHS and shelters. Callaway said knowing what happened to Ethan has helped the public understand shelters are not just places to keep dogs and cats until someone adopts them.

“It’s a place where those animals are taken care of, a place where they learn to be loved again and they learn to trust people again,” Callaway said.

Callaway hopes Ethan can continue to inspire others.

“He’s on a journey and he’s got a message,” Callaway said. “People respond to that. He just needs someone sometimes to be his voice, sometimes get him to where he needs to be, and he can make a difference.”

Breya Jones is the Breaking News Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.