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Prodigious pets honored for making a difference

Pets live the good life. They get dinner scraps, comfy beds, unpaid room and board, and ask for little in return except a loving hand to stroke their heads and a warm spot to sit in. And when a dog or cat proves that they can do more than fetch the Sunday paper or keep squirrels away from the bird feeder, they get recognized as a Pet Hero by the USA Today.

For the second straight year, the newspaper will hold its Paw Print Post Pet Hero contest. USA Today is accepting submissions from animal owners whose prodigious pets have helped to make a difference.

Last year, contestants included a dog who kept cougars away from his 89-year-old owner after the Centralia, Washington, add comma man flipped his car, a pooch who swam with and supported her owner during a freak canoeing trip accident as well as dogs and cats who have leant a paw in nursing homes, children's hospitals and at charity events.

USA Today will accept submissions through early November, though some adoring pet owners are already sending in their stories.

One contestant for this year's contest, firefighter Dayna Hilton's Dalmatian, Sparkles, has her own book and website that educate children about fire safety.
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