05/06/2013 11:46 EDT | Updated 07/06/2013 05:12 EDT

Purina Animal Hall Of Fame: N.S. Dog Who Pulled Owner From Burning House Among Inductees

Purina Animal Hall of Fame

TORONTO - A Nova Scotia family dog that pulled her owner from a burning home is among the courageous canines being inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame.

Bella, a two-year-old Bernese mountain dog from Milton, N.S, was among the four-legged heroes being honoured at the annual ceremony hosted at the PawsWay in Toronto.

The Purina Animal Hall of Fame recognizes extreme acts of courage, bravery and devotion by Canadian pets and service animals.

Last November, Bella's owner, Chris Larocque, was home alone checking on his lunch in the oven. An ankle injury he'd sustained from an auto accident flared up and he fell and hit his head. On the way down, the cloth he had in his hand grazed the elements in the oven and caught fire, quickly moving up his arm and onto his clothing.

Larocque removed the shirt and threw it against the wall, and the walls of the kitchen caught fire. Unable to rise on his own due to his injuries, he called for Bella and was able to grab her collar and coach her to pull him from the burning house.

"Without Bella's devotion, strength and courage, I would have died in the fire that destroyed my home," Larocque said in a release.

The other inductees are:

Service Dog of the Year: Teak from Vancouver. The eight-year-old German shepherd caught and brought down an armed robbery suspect on Jan. 11. When Teak's partner, Const. Derrick Gibson, caught up with the canine, he saw the suspect slashing the dog on the neck with a knife multiple times. Teak had two surgeries and has nearly healed from all of his wounds. He has since retired from the Vancouver Police Department.

Vicious from Trail, B.C. After a cougar entered the family home through an open sliding door in the backyard and pounced on owner Angie Prime, Vicious, a 12-year-old border collie/Labrador cross, lunged at the cougar, chasing the wild cat out of the house. Vicious returned unharmed.

Snickers from Oshawa, Ont. Police responded to a call about Snickers, a four-year-old border collie/pointer cross, incessantly barking and pacing outside a resident's driveway, blocking their attempts to leave for work.

After peering into the window of the home next door, Const. Rob Garnett saw Gregory Gould — who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — lying unconscious on his living room floor. After getting inside, Garnett realized that Snickers had thrown his body repeatedly against the screen door to help trigger the release to get outside in an effort to seek help for his owner.

"The tenacity of our 2013 inductees to rescue and protect people from harm — whether it's a wild animal, house fire, criminal or a medical emergency — showcases the connection animals have to humans and the physical risks they will take to keep them safe," Purina PetCare Legacy executive director Mary Siemiesz said in a release.

Since its inception in 1968, 132 dogs, 26 cats and one horse have been inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame.



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