CRTASA's Wall of Champions

Service and Therapy Animals

CRTASA is delighted to feature stories and photos of various service and therapy animals that have made a positive difference in the lives of people with visible / non-visible disabilities and those with special needs.

This "Wall of Champions" page is dedicated to all service and therapy animals that have completed their specialized training and are assisting people with special needs lead fuller and more accessible lives.

Recognizing Different Species as Service Animals

At CRTASA our Wall of Champions extends to various animal species that have been trained and certified to provide specific assistance to people with particular disabilities and special needs.

So if you have a Helper Monkey or an Assistance Miniature Horse that has made a positive contribution to your life or to someone you know please submit your inspirational story to be featured on our CRTASA online publications and upcoming special promotions.

Submit Your Working Angel Story

CRTASA is always interested in letting the world know of how incredible service and therapy animals truly are and how they positively enrich the lives of their owners and others.

So for these reasons we invite our members to share their stories and also submit photos of their working animal so we can feature their success and dedication online and in our future promotional campaigns

Featured Champions

"Magic" Miniature Therapy Mare (Winner of the AARP Most Heroic Pet Award in 2010)

Magic - Miniature Therapy Mare has white and brown coat, blue eyes and wearing red harness

Magic, a blue-eyed mare is a therapy animal that regularly visits patients in group homes, hospitals or hospice-care facilities to provide comfort and emotional support. 

According to Debbie Garcia-Bengochea, co-founder of Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses,  "Magic always seems to find the person in the room who needs her the most."  

In 2010 Magic won the AARP's Most Heroic Pet Award after she went to visit a patient in an assisted-living facility who had not spoken to anyone over three years. However as soon as Magic entered the room and she laid eyes on the magnificant gentle miniature horse the woman finally spoke for the first time in 3 years as she said, "Isn't she beautiful?" 

Those first words caused the staff to break out in tears. The woman continued to communicate from that point onward with staff and her family and friends each of whom attribute this medical breakthrough to Magic. 

The Florida program that brought the two together, Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses, continues to have Magic work her "magic" in the Sunshine State.

"Jerri" Monkey Helper & Bradley - Together since April 2012

Bradley sits in wheelchair outside on his porch with Jerri his Monkey Helper on his lap facing him

At age 18, Bradley hit his head in a diving accident, shattering his C6 vertebra leaving him paralyzed. Bradley faced the long, slow process of adapting to his new “normal.” He had to learn how to bathe, get dressed, and maneuver around the house which was not easy and very frustrating as everything took a lot of effort and much longer. 

Bradley's social life started to suffer as he found it easier to stay at home instead of going out with his friends.


Then, Bradley found out about Helping Hands Monkey Helpers and he decided to apply for a monkey helper. He completed the extensive process and was thrilled when, in April 2012, he was matched with Jerri, a bright, inquisitive, female monkey helper that assists Bradley with his daily activities. 

The two have become inseparable and having Jerri with him 24/7 he finds he is no longer feeling sad or lonely. Bradley explains. “I had gotten used to everyone taking care of me. Now that Jerri is with me, she takes care of me and relies on me to take care of her.” 

Now, Bradley is looking ahead and his future plans include attending college. “I’d like to go back to school and get a degree that would help me get a good job,” he says. Navigating this new territory now no longer seems so daunting, explaining, “Jerri will be right there with me.” 

Retired Army Sgt. Toby Yarbrough Honors His Service Dog "Duke" of 13 Years (May 2017)

Retired Army Sgt. Toby Yarbrough hugs his German Sheppard service dog, Duke, age 13.

Thirteen years ago, a neurosurgeon told Army Sgt. Toby Yarbrough that he would need a service dog due to a brain injury he sustained after a 2-ton front-end loader flipped on top of him when he was doing repairs. Yarbrough's lower back was broken in three places and he was also left with seizures, crippling migraines and PTSD.

Undergoing rigorous therapy he went from a wheelchair to walking with a cane. Hen then sought out a breeder in his hometown in Georgia to obtain a German Sheppard pup that he had privately trained to  assist him with his seizures and PTSD. 

Yarbrough was introduced to Duke when he was just 30 minutes old and the two bonded instantly.  He visited Duke daily until the puppy was old enough to be brought home and that was when the real work began. For the next two years and at a cost of $40,000 using mostly private trainers Duke breezed through basic obedience and then learned to detect the subtle changes of Yarbrough’s body chemistry prior to a seizure, which can begin as much as an hour before it occurs. 

Duke was also trained to bring Yarbrough his seizure medication and was trained to drag Yarbrough 10 feet to safety if seizures took hold. Duke would also know how to alert people nearby to help Yarborough. 

In addition to alerting and assisting with seizure response Duke was trained to distract and comfort Yarbrough when PTSD panic attacks hit. 

In 2017 Yarbrough nominated Duke for the American Humane Annual Hero Dog Awards as a tribute to his 13 years of service. This Chesapeake man’s best friend may not have won the nation’s top dog hero award, but that does not mean that Duke is not a hero all the same!

2017 American Humane Hero Dog Awards

2017 Winner - Abigail "The Emerging Hero"

Abigail a pit-bull mix rescue won the 2017 top Hero Dog Award for the lesson she teaches about forgiveness and the awareness she has brought to the importance of helping “End Dog Fighting”. 

"Pierce" - 2017 Winner in the Category of Guide / Hearing

German Sheppard Seeing Guide Dog - sitting tall wearing a red harness.

Pierce, a handsome German Sheppard seeing guide dog had won the 2017 Hero Dog Award in the Category of Guide / Hearing. Pierce was recognized for the positive impact he has had on his owner Don who has reclaimed a newfound freedom after losing his vision more than 20 years ago during the first Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm). 

"Aladdin" - 2017 Winner in the Category of Therapy

Aladdin a light brown pitbull sitting looking up wearing an orange shirt/vest.

Aladdin was rescued in 2013 from a life of severe abuse. Aladdin had a rough recovery but he soldiered through and overcame the obstacles put before him. Despite his abuse he gentleness shined through and within the year he became certified as a therapy dog followed by becoming trained as a crisis response dog to help poeple overcome a traumatic event. 

Aladdin won the 2017 Hero Dog Award in the category of Therapy because of how much he has helped others heal and recover.

"Atlas" - 2017 Winner in the Category of Service

Atlas a purebred German Sheppard trained as Service Dog provides support to PTSD victims

Atlas the Wonderdog won the 2017 Hero Dog Award in the category of Service. 

He is fully trained as a service dog to provide the timely and proper assistance and support to his owner and others that have been left with PTSD symptoms and flashbacks of traumatic events.

Additional American Humane Hero Dog Award Winners

To read up on the other category winners in 2017 or winners from prior years please click below.

Nominations Now Open for 2018 Hero Dog Awards

Do you want to nominate an extra-ordinary dog for next year's American Humane Hero Dog Award? 

The annual campaign for 2018 is now accepting nominations where  seven lucky finalists and their human companions will be flown to Hollywood for a star-studded awards gala, which will be broadcast nationwide on Hallmark Channel next fall. 

Of all the courageous canines, one dog will be awarded the grand prize American Hero Dog title. In order to cultivate the next generation of hero dogs, American Humane will donate $2,500 to each of the seven finalist’s charity partners, and the American Hero Dog will win an additional $5,000 for their charity partner!

Good luck with your submission and let CRTASA know by email if you also want to promote your amazing service or therapy dog on our website to garner added public exposure and support.