Two New Jersey dogs have made it to the semifinals of the American Humane “Hero Dog” competition. For the contest, the dogs are divided into seven categories: Guide/Hearing, Law Enforcement and Detection, Military, Search and Rescue, Service, Shelter, and Therapy.

Both of the Garden State’s semifinalists hail from the same town: Millville, but don’t worry, they won’t be competing directly with each other as they are in different divisions.

Cole is entered in the therapy category and K9 Hansel is in the law enforcement and detection division.

Cole, who is deaf, is handled by Vineland Public School teacher Chris Hannah, and is the official mascot of the Vineland Veterans Memorial Homes. He also works alongside Hannah at the elementary school where he teaches in a unique social-emotional learning program called the Team Cole Project. According to the competition’s website, “Through his work in school and traveling assemblies across the region, he empowers children to embrace their differences and inspires acts of acceptance.

K9 Hansel, a pitbull, was rescued from a dog fighting ring in Canada at seven weeks old and was slated for euthanizing before being saved. Eventually, Hansel was accepted into a working dog program and underwent 16 weeks of training. According to his bio, he was the first pitbull to be certified in accelerant detection in the United States, and can recognize 14 different ignitable liquid odors. His partner, Millville Firefighter Tyler Van Lee says, “He really is the best partner and a rockstar.”

You can vote for the dogs here.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.

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