It’s the peak of summer now, which means it’s once again time for PEOPLE’s annual “World’s Cutest Rescue Dog Contest.” Sponsored by Pedigree®, The World’s Cutest Rescue Dog Contest gives adopters the chance to share their dogs’ incredible stories (and adorable faces) with the world.
All rescue dogs and the people who dedicate their lives to them deserve praise, and PEOPLE’s yearly contest really shows the value of rescuing a shelter dog, regardless of who wins.
Beyond that, the dog who wins the title also gets some pretty cool prizes. The official World’s Cutest Rescue Dog wins a custom photoshoot, a feature both in PEOPLE magazine and on People.com, a year’s supply of Pedigree® dog food, and a $1,000 donation to the animal rescue organization of their choice.
How To Enter Your Rescue Dog
First: go to www.People.com/rescuedogcontest. Click the “Enter Contest” button. Then you just have to fill out the entry form, share a little bit about why your rescue dog is so special to you (no more than 150 words), and upload their photo. There’s no cost to enter the contest!
According to the contest rules:
You have to live within the 50 U.S. States or D.C. to enter.
All [human] participants must be at least 18 years old.
Each participant can only enter one (1) pet.
You can submit your entry between June 29 and August 10, 2022. Then, unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until October to find out who the winner is.
Once submissions close, PEOPLE editors select 10 finalists from thousands of rescue dog entrants. After that, readers can vote to narrow the list down to a top 3. The grand prize winner will ultimately be chosen by the contest’s panel of judges: Akbar Gbajabiamila, Natalie Morales, Jerry O’Connell, PEOPLE Pets editor Kelli Bender, and Pedigree® Foundation ambassador Evan Satinoff.
View the more detailed rules and requirements here.
Previous “World’s Cutest Rescue Dog” Winners
2022’s will be the 5th consecutive World’s Cutest Rescue Dog Contest. Last year’s contest winner, a mixed breed dog named Heaven, beat out over 10,000 other rescue dogs to claim the title.
Heaven is part Chow Chow, part Labrador, part Boxer, and part Pekingese. As a former stray in Kentucky, Heaven eventually moved from an overcrowded shelter to the Starfish Animal Rescue in Illinois. After everything Heaven went through, she was very fearful (especially of men and the outdoors).
According to Jackie Rakers, her adopter who submitted her to the contest, the rescue pup displayed “intense” anxiety at first. Rakers helped Heaven work through her fears, slowly introducing her to parks and dog-friendly businesses to become comfortable with new stimuli.
“Anytime a cart came past and made noise, or a man walked past, she learned that if she made eye contact with me instead of reacting, she got a treat. We worked through a lot of fears together.”
Today, Heaven has really “found her smile.” That toothy grin is now famous on Instagram (@heaven_is_a_dog has 15,000 followers). This formerly highly anxious dog has come a long way.
“I feel like the biggest thing that I learned from her was just not to give up,” Rakers told PEOPLE. “Heaven went through a lot really early in her life. Things that no dogs should have to go through. But she still loves life.”
Heaven’s predecessor, the 2020 World’s Cutest Rescue Dog, is a puppy mill survivor named Lamb Chop. Prior to that, the winner was another puppy mill survivor named Kacey.
Even if your dog doesn’t win (outrageous!), this annual contest is a nice reminder that rescuing a dog has a huge impact on so many canine and human lives.
Featured Image: Facebook
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