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2019 Contest Information

Friday, June 21, 2019
Kiwanis Stage, Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds
Pet Fest: 2: 00 – 5:00 PM
Pre-Show: 5:15 PM
Contest: 6:00 PM
Press Contact: publicity@sonoma-marinfair.org
Photographer: Will Bucquoy Photography

Entries CLOSE June 19, 2019.

2018 Winners

Zsa Zsa – 2018 World’s Ugliest Dog®
Owner: Megan Brainard

Second Place: Scamp, owner Yvonne Morones and third place winner Josie, owned by Linda Elmquist
Third Place: Josie – owner Linda Elquist
Spirit Award: Josie – owner Linda Elquist

About the Contest

For nearly 30 years, the World’s Ugliest Dog® Contest has been a testament that the pedigree does not define the pet. Dogs of all breeds and sizes have warmed our hearts and filled our lives with unconditional love. This world-renowned event celebrates the imperfections that make all dogs special and unique.

The day begins with pre-contest entertainment and information on pet care and adoption. Each pup and handler will bask in the limelight as they are escorted along the red carpet to show off their unique beauty to the judges, international media, celebrity host, and fans. It’s a wonderful show of pageantry and pride.

And while fun and entertaining, the contest speaks to the importance of advocating for the adoration of all animals and the benefits of adopting. Many of the contestant dogs have been rescued from shelters and puppy mills, to find loving homes in the hands of those willing to adopt. Please join us in raising awareness and support for the pets yet to be placed in a loving home.

The old saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is exemplified at the World’s Ugliest Dog® Contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, CA. The internationally observed event celebrates homely hounds and the humans who love them.

For 28 years, the Contest has been a testament that all dogs do not have to meet AKC pedigree standards to be man’s (or woman’s) best friend. The owners of all kinds of dogs are also all kinds of people, from youngsters to senior citizens, each proud of their pet despite missing fur, crossed eyes, duck waddles or mismatched ears. They proudly walk both pedigreed pooches and Heinz 57 mutts down the red carpet to the cheers and clapping of the crowd.

Prior to arriving for the contest, all the dogs must provide a veterinarian’s paperwork asserting that they are healthy.  The World’s Ugliest Dog® Contest follows up with a vet check on-site just prior to the contest.  Animal rescue and adoption groups are also on site with information showcasing adoptable pets.

A good many of the contestant dogs have been rescued from shelters and puppy mills and the contest has done much to raise awareness for adoption of dogs, and that no matter their physical detractions, these animals are loving companions.  And the dogs certainly seem to enjoy the adoration of the fans.

The annual World’s Ugliest Dog® Contest is not about making fun of “ugly” dogs, but having fun with some wonderful characters and showing the world that these dogs are really beautiful! Entry forms for the Contest and the Petfest are available now, just click on the link to your left.

You can contact us with questions via email at wud@sonoma-marinfair.org.

2019 Worlds Ugliest Dog® Team

Brent Ferris - Emcee

Program director for KZST (www.kzst.com) and its sister country station KTRY, and consultant to jazz station KJZY, Farris has a free hand. “What I do is a talk show, and when I don’t have something important, interesting or fun to say, I shut up and play a record,” he said.

The son of a Navy commander, Farris grew up living all over the world, which he says accounts for his wide range of interests. After getting a degree in communications from the College of Marin, Farris worked as a newspaper photographer for the Marin Independent Journal, also freelancing for People and Us magazines.

Brian Sobel - Judge

Brian Sobel is the principal consultant for Sobel Communications of Petaluma, California.

Sobel has many years of experience in the private and public sectors.  Educated at San Francisco State University, majoring in Broadcast Communication Arts and Journalism, Sobel worked in radio and television and was News Director for two radio stations.  Before opening his consulting firm, Sobel spent several years working for a major corporation as a writer, training consultant and video producer.

In the public sector, Sobel has been active as a past candidate for the California State Assembly and is a former planning commissioner and vice-mayor of Petaluma, California. He is also past chairman of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority and a current member of several other non-governmental and governmental boards and commissions including the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District Board of Directors, where he also chairs the Transportation Committee of the Board. In his capacity as a public official, Sobel testified before governmental entities including a United States Senate committee, where he outlined the key role of local government in decision-making by the federal government. He also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the 4th District Agricultural Association, appointed by governor of California, for nine years and as president of the board for one year.

Along with Sobel’s extensive private sector experience, he has authored three books, including one anthology. His second book entitled, The Fighting Pattons, is the story of the famous general and his only son, who also became a general and fought with distinction in Korea and during three tours of duty in Vietnam. The book, with a foreword written by Major General George S. Patton (Ret.), was a main selection of the Military Book Club, with members worldwide. Later, it was released in paperback by Dell Publishing, and in audio as well. In April 2013 the book was rereleased in Trade Paperback. Along with writing books, Sobel has contributed articles to a variety of national publications including The Wall Street Journal, often appeared on the History Channel and hosted a weekly talk radio program on the Northern California Radio Network. The program aired from Oregon to central California and east to Reno, Nevada. Sobel also served for several years as the on-air political analyst for KFTY 50 Television located in Santa Rosa, California, and currently provides political and military commentary for numerous media outlets, including KTVU, Channel 2, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sobel has received a variety of awards in connection with his writing, training and video work.

Kerry Sanders - Judge

Kerry Sanders has been NBC’s Miami-based correspondent since 1996, covering news mainly in the South and throughout Latin America. Sanders contributes regularly to “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams,” “Today,” MSNBC and occasionally to “Dateline NBC.”

Sanders covers breaking news and feature stories. He has more than 30 years experience providing in-the-field-reports during hurricanes. He was a member of the NBC Nightly News reporting team that was awarded a Peabody and the RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award for coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

Sanders was also one of NBC’s embedded reporters during the Iraq war, traveling with the U.S. Marine Corps. He reported on various battles, including the harsh 11-day conflict in Nasariyah. In addition, Sanders has extensively covered the war on terror in Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

Sanders has received other numerous national awards. He was a member of the NBC News team that won the Edward R. Murrow award in 2011 for his live coverage from the Titanic wreckage in the North Atlantic. He was awarded a 2011 Society of Professional Journalists Bronze Medal for his coverage of the 33 Chileans trapped deep in a mine. Sanders was awarded a National Headliner Award for his reporting from Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake.

In addition, he was awarded an Emmy as a member of the NBC News team reporting on the 2008 national election. He was also awarded an Emmy in 2005 as a member of the NBC News team reporting on Hurricane Katrina. In 2000, he won the Overseas Press Club Award for his coverage in Kosovo. In 1994 Sanders was honored with the prestigious Columbia-duPont, recognized for his reporting from Haiti as a military coup rocked the country. Sanders shared another Columbia-duPont award for his compelling coverage of the widespread devastation of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Sanders was also a co-recipient of the RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award, and the George Foster Peabody Award for coverage of Hurricane Andrew and the aftermath of the storm.

Joanne Yates - Judge

Joanne Yates, PhD, President and Co-Founder of 4Paws Learning and Wellness Center.

After teaching at Michigan State University as a writing instructor, Joanne moved to California, finished her doctorate at University of Nevada Reno, and was inspired by her three-legged golden, Max, to start a social therapy program with pets.

Max was a pound rescue and later lost a foreleg to cancer, but he learned how to balance, swim and do almost everything he did before—including make people smile. His indomitable spirit and happy, bouncy walk made people pause. When they realized that he was a tripod, the most common response was admiration, not pity. “Now, look at him,” they’d say. He’s happy and nothing’s slowing him down. How can I complain about my problems?”

That attitude of carrying on and his ability to love unconditionally were two qualities Joanne hoped to bring to healthcare and educational venues. The healthcare connection was obvious, but Joanne knew from teaching that there were also many students from primary school through college who were stressed or fearful for any number of reasons.

The first 4Paws educational program, Readers of the Pack™, started in several Sonoma public libraries in which younger students read to therapy dogs to gain confidence. (That was how Joanne became nominated for “Hometown Hero” by Brent Ferris: he walked into the Windsor library where he saw a child reading to one of the 4Paws canines.)

Today many 4Paws teams are still in libraries and classrooms, but even more volunteer at high schools and universities like Sonoma State for stress-less events during exams, graduation, when semesters begin or for mental health days.

When not busy with 4Paws, Joanne finds time for her garden and her two rescued dogs, Rudy and Sandy. Rudy, a golden, is a therapy dog with Joanne, and Sandy is a very talkative Sheltie who could use a little therapy most days.

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