A 4-pound Chihuahua born with a cleft palate is the 2020 American Hero Dog

A little Chihuahua named MacKenzie is living proof that even the smallest among us can make a huge difference in the world.“Kenz” was born with a cleft palate and needed to be tube-fed for nearly a year before a life-saving surgery enabled her to drink and eat on her own. Even though she was sick — the dog survived several bouts of aspiration pneumonia — she wanted to care for the other babies at The Mia Foundation, a nonprofit in Rochester, New York, that rescues animals born with birth defects.
Almost seven years later, MacKenzie still provides love and care to rescued baby animals who cannot stay with their mothers because of medical issues — regardless of species or size. She’s mothered puppies, kittens, a goat, a turkey, a squirrel, birds, a mouse and even a Great Dane.
MacKenzie plays nurse and mother to rescued baby animals with birth defects, cleaning and cuddling them, while also teaching them how to socialize and play.Courtesy of American Humane

MacKenzie, who has lost her ability to bark, also visits schoolchildren whenever possible to help them learn to accept physical differences in animals and people and to inspire kindness, empathy and patience.

Find ways to enrich your pet’s environment. Your dog or cat needs your help to stay mentally stimulated. This is important not only to discourage destructive behavior in younger pets, but also to keep your older pet’s brain sharp.

Last night, the nonprofit American Humane named MacKenzie 2020 American Hero Dog at the 10th anniversary celebration of the American Humane Hero Dog Awards. Hosted by celebrity designer Carson Kressley, the awards celebrated the heroism of dogs and the human-canine bond.