Your dog deserves to win PEOPLE’s “World’s Cutest Rescue Dog Contest” 2022

It’s the height of summer now, which means it’s 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’ amazing stories (and adorable faces) with the world.

All rescue dogs and the people who dedicate their lives to them deserve praise, and PEOPLE’s annual contest truly shows the value of rescuing a shelter dog, regardless of who wins.

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Beyond that, the dog that wins the title also gets some pretty cool prizes. World’s Cutest Official Rescue Dog Wins Custom Photoshoot, Feature in Both PEOPLE Magazine and People.com, One-Year Supply of Pedigree® Dog Food and $1,000 Donation to the animal rescue organization of their choice.

How to enter your rescue dog

First things first: go to www.People.com/rescuedogcontest. Click on the “Enter the contest” button. Then all you have to do is fill out the entry form, share a bit about why your rescue dog is so special to you (no more than 150 words), and upload their photo. There is no cost to enter the contest!

According to the contest rules:

  • You must live in all 50 US states or DC to enter.
  • All [human] participants must be at least 18 years old.
  • Each entrant may only enter one (1) pet.

You can submit your application between June 29 and August 10, 2022. Then, unfortunately, you will have to wait until October to find out who the winner is.

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After submissions are complete, PEOPLE editors select 10 finalists from thousands of rescue dogs. 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 judges: Akbar Gbajabiamila, Natalie Morales, Jerry O’Connell, PEOPLE Pets Editor-in-Chief Kelli Bender, and Pedigree® Foundation Ambassador Evan Satinoff.

See more detailed rules and requirements here.

Previous “World’s Cutest Rescue Dog” Winners

2022 will be the 5th consecutive World’s Cutest Rescue Dog Contest. The winner of last year’s contest, 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 wanderer from Kentucky, Heaven eventually rose from a crowded haven to the Starfish animal rescue in Illinois. After everything Heaven has been through, she was very scared (especially of men and the outdoors).

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According to Jackie Rakers, her adopter who submitted her to the contest, the rescue pup initially showed “intense” anxiety. Rakers helped Heaven overcome her fears, slowly introducing her to parks and dog-friendly businesses to familiarize herself with new stimuli.

“Every time a cart passed and made noise, or a man walked past, she learned that if she looked me in the eye instead of reacting, she was getting a treat. We overcame many fears together.

Today, Heaven has really “found her smile back”. This toothy smile is now Instagram famous (@heaven_is_a_dog has 15,000 subscribers). This once very anxious dog has come a long way.

“I feel like the biggest thing I learned from her was not to give up,” Rakers told PEOPLE. “Heaven went through a lot of things very early in her life. Things that no dog should have to go through. But she still loves life.

Heaven’s predecessor, World’s Cutest Rescue Dog 2020, is a puppy mill survivor named Lamb Chop. Before that, the winner was another puppy mill survivor named Kacey.

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Even if your dog doesn’t win (outrageous!), this annual contest is a good reminder that rescuing a dog has a huge impact on so many canine and human lives.

The featured image: Facebook