Rescue Pup Named ASPCA's Dog Of The Year For Therapeutic Work At Texas Fire Station

"No matter how tough you think you are, you have a cute dog in front of you, you turn real soft real quick."

Clementine Dog of the Year Image
Photo: Courtesy ASPCA

The Texas pup who took home the Dog of the Year Award at the 2022 ASPCA Humane Awards wasn't always a winner.

The story of Clementine, a three-year-old Catahoula/hound mix, begins when she was dropped off at an animal shelter in southeastern Louisiana in May 2021. A few months later, as Hurricane Ida approached the Louisiana coast, Clementine was one of many animals relocated from the storm's path by the ASPCA.

The energetic dog landed at Tri-City Animal Shelter in Cedar Hill, Texas. During her time there, Clementine was adopted twice but returned each time due to challenges adapting to her adopted families' lifestyles and other pets.

In October, Captain Robert Moree of the Cedar Hill Fire Department wrote a letter to his Fire Chief proposing they adopt a dog to help the firefighters cope with the stress of their jobs. Not long after, his crew happened to respond to a call near the Tri-City Animal Shelter.

"I decided to stop in to see what dogs they had available. I knew we wanted to rescue to help bring awareness to adopting from local shelters," Moree recalled to People. "I explained that we wanted a dog they were having a harder time placing, preferably one that was older and would easily adjust to the fire station without needing the attention and training a puppy would."

Clementine fit the bill. A few hours later, Moree brought her home to Cedar Hill Fire Department's Fire Station #212. The playful pup quickly adapted to her surroundings, forging strong bonds with each member of the five-man crew.

Clementine Dog of the Year
Courtesy ASPCA

"Firefighters like to think of ourselves as the macho tough guys. We don't want to talk to other people about our feelings. But when you see somebody who loses a child, who loses a parent, it's something you think about. It's something that stays on your mind," Moree said in a video released by the ASPCA. "We have to be able to load up and go on the next one, so we have to deal with the stress in whatever way we can."

Today Clementine lives full-time at Fire Station #212, which now includes a custom-built outdoor play yard. She serves not only as a beloved pet, but also as a valuable source of therapeutic support and comfort for firefighters coping with traumatic calls.

"No matter how tough you think you are, you have a cute dog in front of you, you turn real soft real quick," Sharod Murray, a firefighter with the Cedar Hill Fire Department, said in the video.

Clementine Dog of the Year (1)
Courtesy ASPCA

Clementine's ability to bond with Fire Station #212's crew and provide support during stressful moments earned her the Dog of the Year Award from the 2022 ASPCA Humane Awards.

"Our hope is that people see Clementine's story and are inspired to support animal welfare efforts locally and nationally so that more 'underdogs' like Clementine—at-risk animals or animals with special needs or challenges — can find second chances to survive and thrive in safe and loving homes," Matt Bershadker, ASPCA's president and CEO, said in a statement.

Congratulations, Clementine!

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