New Rochelle Guide Dog Nominated for Hero Award

If Verona wins, $15,000 will be awarded to Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights.

A New Rochelle woman really wants to win $15,000 for Yorktown Heights' .

Ann Chiappetta, who is blind, has a 5-year-old female black Labrador retriever guide dog named Verona who is a contestant in the American Humane Association's 2012 Hero Dog Awards

If Verona gets enough votes, she will move up to the finals, and if she ultimately wins, $15,000 will be awarded to Guiding Eyes.

Chiappetta was partnered with Verona in Jan. 2009, having needed the dog because of a degenerative retinal disease.

"She's changed my life in so many ways," she said. "She's saved me from being hurt so many times, if she could be honored by people voting for her that would be a great tribute to her and the other guide dogs like her who help blind people each and every day."

Chippetta, who is a family therapist at the Vet Center of the Dept. of Veterans Affairs in White Plains, chose Guiding Eyes for the Blind because it is the organization where Verona was bred and trained. The dog was given to her free of charge.

"The expert work Guiding Eyes does to prepare and provide superbly bred and trained dog guides costs $50,000," she said. "Any monetary assistance I can give is well worth it."

Voting began April 1. Voting for nominees can be done once a day until June 30. An individual can vote for one dog from each category: guide dogs, law enforcement/arson dogs, service dogs, therapy dogs, military dogs, search and rescue dogs, hearing dogs and emerging hero dogs.

The winner will be announced Oct. 5, with the grand prize winner flown to Hollywood, CA, to a televised event on the Hallmark Channel with all expenses paid.

To vote for Verona, click here.


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