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And the 2015 American Hero Dog Is ...

Harley is a small chihuahua who's seen better days. He's missing an eye, and his legs are deformed. Most of his teeth have been removed, and his tongue sticks out. He is physically a mess, and he's also this year's American Hero Dog.

The little dog received a standing ovation when his win was announced at the American Humane Association's 2015 Hero Dog Awards. His owners, Rudi and Dan Taylor, carried Harley onstage and tearfully accepted his award.

Image via Facebook

"It was just four years ago that he was pulled from the cage in the puppy mill and left to die," Rudi Taylor said onstage. "We never would have ever thought he would live this long and make such a difference for so many puppies."

Harley's story is a tragic one. He spent 10 years living in a cage in a puppy mill. When volunteers pulled him out of there, they found a long list of health issues. One of Harley's eyes was gone, most likely lost when his cage was power-washed with him inside it. He had a broken tail, infected teeth, twisted toes and heart disease.

The Taylors, residents in Berthoud, Colorado, were told that Harley would most likely only live another three months max when they adopted him. However, four years later, the 14-year-old chihuahua has become an American Hero Dog.

"Harley survived in hell for 10 years and there's only one thing that allows the spirit to do that, and that's to be indomitable," Dan Taylor said onstage. "That spirit is allowing him now to be the voice for dogs who cannot speak for themselves and give everybody hope that tomorrow's going to be a better day."

Harley's story of survival inspired Rudi Taylor to start the Harley to the Rescue campaign. It raises money for the National Mill Dog Rescue organization, which has saved more than 10,000 dogs from puppy mills.

Read more about Harley's story and see the other finalists on the American Humane Society's Hero Dog Awards site.

Image via American Humane Association

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