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May 4, 2011

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Darryl Steen kisses his pit bull, Diamond, before receiving the 29th annual National Hero Dog Award from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Los Angeles. When her family's Hayward apartment caught fire in October 2010, the dog barked to wake Steen. He rushed to save his daughters, grabbing Darahne and dropping her out a second-story window. But he couldn't get through the smoke and flames to reach Sierra. Diamond not only wiggled through but shielded the teenager beneath a mattress until firefighters rescued them both. Sierra and her father were treated for burns and received skin grafts. Diamond spent six weeks at a veterinary hospital recovering from burns and smoke inhalation.

PHOTO: Damian Dovarganes/AP

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