Davenport comfort dog Gracie to be honored this weekend

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ANKENY, Iowa (KWQC) - UPDATE: The Iowa Animal Hall of Fame ceremony is scheduled for this Saturday, April 29, 2017 at the Animal Rescue League of Iowa’s annual Raise Your Paw Auction in Des Moines. Three animals will be honored as the 2016 winners in three categories, including Gracie the Comfort Dog, who is receiving the award in the Professional Category.

ORIGINAL 10/20/16: Gracie the comfort dog has comforted people all across the Quad Cities and beyond, and now she's being recognized for her work.

Gracie, along with two other animals, has been named to the 2016 Iowa Animal Hall of Fame. The animals were given the honor by the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association (IVMA) and Merck Animal Health. Each animal is selected based on their bravery, companionship, and professional contributions to people and their community. Since the Iowa Animal Hall of Fame was created 19 years ago, 58 Iowa animals have been inducted.

The awards are given in three different categories: companion, hero, and professional. Gracie won the professional category.

Gracie is a six-year-old Golden Retriever owned by Trinity Lutheran Church and School. Her handler is Jane Marsh-Johnson.

Gracie is specially trained as a comfort dog. She is the only Iowa dog trained as part of the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Program. Gracie's duties include providing comfort to the kids at the school, her community, the state of Iowa, and beyond.

She has been deployed 9 times during events of major crisis including the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut and the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. Gracie is also the official crisis response dog for the City of Davenport police and fire departments.

When not dealing with an emergency, Gracie visits nursing and hospice homes, helps veterans experiencing PTSD, and listens to children read at school and the library.

Gracie was nominated for her award by Dr. Laura Bahns of Kimberly Crest Veterinary Hospital. She and two other doctors were recognized for nominating the winners at the 2016 Iowa Veterinary Medical Annual Meeting in Ames on September 9.

The companion award was won by Flyer, a 12-year-old Morgan horse owned by Glenda Farrier of Atlantic. The winner of the hero category was Cally, and 8-year-old Malinois owned by Kenneth and Pualine Lloyd of Union.