The 2011 Cutest Mutt Alive Is …

After hundreds of endearing entries were whittled down to 10 adorable finalists, one dog reigns supreme. Who is the Cutest Mutt Alive of 2011? He’s Rocco from East Greenwich, Rhode Island!

Rocco, who was entered into this year’s contest by his 12-year-old “sister” with the help of their mom, is described as being like a brother. His “sister” Sarah says, “I am also his teacher of tricks, bed buddy and the one he knows he can come to for playtime. I can’t remember my life before him!”

Every year, millions of animals find themselves abandoned at animal shelters just like Rocco did. Rocco was fortunate to have been adopted by his caring guardians. But sadly, not all dogs who end up in shelters are as lucky. Because of a lack of good homes, 3 to 4 million animals are euthanized every year, many of them mutts just like our adorable and lovable finalists.

One of the biggest ways that you can help to prevent dogs from ending up in shelters is always to spay or neuter your animal companions. It’s a pretty basic formula: Fewer animal births mean fewer unwanted animals, and fewer unwanted animals mean fewer animals who will end up in shelters.

If you’re looking for a cuddly canine companion like Rocco, visit your local animal shelter and adopt a dog rather than buying one from a pet store, puppy mill, or breeder. It’s a win-win situation: You’re sure to find a lifelong friend, and who knows? Maybe next year he or she will be named PETA’s Cutest Mutt Alive!

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind