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'World's ugliest dog' chosen at U.S. contest -- with a reminder to potential owners

Newly crowned "ugliest dog" winner Zsa Zsa poses for pictures. (Photo by Reuben Monastra)

PETALUMA, California -- The "World's Ugliest Dog" contest crowned its newest champion, English Bulldog Zsa Zsa, at the Sonoma-Marin Fair on June 23. The contest has entertained fairgoers for 30 years. Its slogan, "Adopt, Don't Shop," serves as a reminder to potential owners that there are many animals in need of homes that can be found at rescue shelters and other similar locations.

"Many of these dogs were actually in kill facilities," said contest coordinator Tawny Tesconi, 56. "And they were adopted by one of these wonderful contestants."

In keeping with the spirit of the competition, dogs available for adoption could be found on-site in a tent adjacent to the contest stage.

The competing dogs were judged on five criteria: first impressions, special or unusual attributes, natural ugliness, personality, and audience impression. A total of $3,000 in prize money was awarded to the top three contestants, with the first-prize winner taking home $1,500. Additionally, a matching $3,000 is scheduled to be donated to charities of the winners' choosing courtesy of pet tracking and information device maker "Pawscout."

Zsa Zsa traveled a long way to be crowned the "ugliest" dog -- her owner, Megan Brainard, drove her 30 hours from Minnesota by van to participate.

The contest was judged by a panel of local and national news personalities, who, after narrowing down the competition down to three contestants, made their final decision based on audience responses.

(By Reuben Monastra, Los Angeles Bureau assistant)

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