Cole, a deaf Pit Bull mix, is named American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASCPA) Dog Of The Year on Tuesday, September 26.
The deaf therapy dog from South Jersey was adopted by Chris Hannah, a music teacher at South New Jersey public school, from South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter in 2017.
Cole has been working as a certified therapy dog at Dr. William Mennies School in Vineland with Hannah for the last five years.
On his website, Cole’s message is simple: “A disability is not an inability, it’s a superpower!“
Hannah reveals that Cole is born deaf and he communicates with the pooch through Sign Language. Together with Cole, Hannah created and launched a unique social-emotional learning program.
And through the program called Team Cole Project, they help students “reflect on personal feelings of ‘brokenness’ in a new and self-empowering way and leaves an impression of acceptance and compassion that youth can take with them for years to come.”
Furthermore, Cole’s presence provides a calming and kind presence to the community. “Cole can’t hear with his ears, but he can hear with his heart,” Hannah told CBS News.
On Cole being named Dog Of The Year, Hannah said, “It’s such an honor for a dog that was born with a disability and is now a full-time school therapy dog, amongst so many other jobs. It’s just a dream come true; it really is.”
In addition to being a therapy dog, Cole is also a hospice therapy volunteer with Angelic Health Palliative & Hospice Care and certified through Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dogs, INC. He is also the official mascot of the New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home.
According to ASCPA, during Cole’s weekly visits, he helps aging veterans “find new strength and enthusiasm for life”.
Along with the Dog Of The Year award, ASCPA announced the winners of their annual ASCPA Humane Awards on their website, two weeks prior to the event that will take place on Thursday, October 12.
ASCPA wrote, “Every year at the ASPCA Humane Awards, the ASPCA honors incredible animal and human heroes who reflect the ASPCA’s dedication to animal welfare and honor the cherished role animals play in our lives.”
“This year’s event will once again share inspiring stories of commitment, hope and compassion for both animals and people,” they continued.
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