Santa Rosa woman’s mutt captures top dog honors in 2019 World’s Ugliest Dog Contest in Petaluma

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Rather than scoring dogs on their prestigious American Kennel Club pedigrees, judges of the World’s Ugliest Dog competition scored pooches on their weird looks.

Scamp the Tramp, a small mutt with dreadlocks owned by a Santa Rosa woman, took the top prize Friday evening among 19 pooches at the 31st annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma.

The top dog and owner Yvonne Morones earned a trip to New York to appear on the “Today” show. Also, Morones got $1,500 cash, plus an additional $1,500 to donate to an animal shelter. And Scamp gets a new name out of the deal.

“He’s Scamp the Champ, no longer Scamp the Tramp,” Morones said after her pup was declared the winner. “I think the audience saw his beautiful spirit and everything he’s given back to the community.”

And Scamp, a rescue from Compton, certainly does give a lot back to the community. He volunteers as a “reading dog” at Park Side Elementary, where children practice reading aloud to him. He also offers companionship to senior citizens at the Sebastopol Senior Center.

The annual premier event at the fair again drew national attention for its spectacular array of unfortunate-looking dogs. Entrants representing the nation’s span, from Sebastopol east to New Jersey, went nose to nose.

Spectators went wild as the dogs marched across the stage, chanting their names (“Meat-loaf! Meat-loaf!”) louder than the emcee’s voice over the loudspeakers.

Even the judges had a hard time picking between the so-ugly-they’re-cute contestants. When it came time to choose a winner, they narrowed it to four, then were stumped and turned it over to the crowd. On the strength of cheers and roars, Scamp was declared the winner.

Meatloaf, a bulldog from Sacramento, made the final four, but was eliminated first when he received the weakest cheers. Tostito, a chihuahua from Maine, went out next. He got a consolation prize, though, picking up the Spirit Award based on online polling.

Tostito’s owner, Molly Horgan, raised more than $1,500 on GoFundMe to travel to California for the contest.

“It’s incredible. I’m in shock,” Morgan said. “We had a lot of support from people in Maine. I’m going to have to call all of them right now.”

After Tostito was eliminated from the main contest, it was down to Scamp and Wild Thang, a Pekingese from the bright lights of Los Angeles. After listening to the crowd’s whoops for Wild Thang and Scamp, the judges conferred and Scamp got the nod.

Even the losers got something out of the contest, said Dane Andrew of Sunnyvale, whose dog Rascal Deux didn’t make the final four.

“Rascal got really loud cheers, and that’s a great feeling,” Andrew said. “That’s really why I come back; it’s really because of the people.”

The competition is not just about canines with odd appearances. Many of the pooches have been rescued from puppy mills or shelters, and the contest organizers aim to raise awareness of the many dogs in need of loving homes.

Sadly, last year’s world champion was not represented at Friday’s competition. Zsa Zsa, a 9-year-old English bulldog who took home the dubious honor in 2018, passed away only a few weeks after being crowned World’s Ugliest Dog.

You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Beale at 707-521-5205 or andrew.beale@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @iambeale.

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