Rocco Beats Out Hundreds of Wagging Tails to Become ‘Top Dog’

East Greenwich, R.I. — After more than 1,000 votes were submitted to
help PETA select the cutest mutt in America, Rocco beat out nine other
finalists to be crowned the winner of PETA’s third annual Cutest Mutt
Alive contest. Rocco, whose guardian is 12-year-old East Greenwich
resident Sarah Vican, edged out more than 650 other lovable mutts to
become a finalist. PETA created the contest to show that all
dogs—whether they’re purebreds or mutts—are created equal and that
the kindest thing a person can do for dogs is to adopt one from an
animal shelter. Rocco will be featured on PETA.org, and along with the
title, Rocco and his guardian will receive a “Mutts Rule” T-shirt, a
copy of Ingrid E. Newkirk’s book Let’s Have a Dog Party!, tasty dog
treats, and a framed certificate.

“Rocco is living proof that the dog—not the papers that accompany
him—is all that matters,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy
Reiman. “All rescued mutts are winners in PETA’s book because when it
comes to giving and appreciating love, nobody does it better.”

Rocco—whose full name is Rocco Diogge (pronounced “D-O-G”) Mandozzi
(because, according to Sarah, “He’s the man!”)—is neutered, and he’s
about 3 years old. Sarah’s mother found him on an adoption website
after he’d been rescued from the streets of New Jersey. Rocco loves to
play fetch and go for car rides, which he’s convinced are intended
solely for his enjoyment. He also has a dedicated tone of voice for
each emotion, and each is remarkably similar to a human voice
expressing those same feelings, according to his guardian. Sarah sums
up her loving relationship with Rocco best: “A brother and sister who
are also best friends,” she says. “I can’t remember my life before

Why are mutts top dogs with PETA? Every time someone buys a purebred
from a breeder or a pet store, a shelter animal loses his or her
chance at finding a home. Every year in the U.S., an astounding 6 to 8
million dogs and cats end up in animal shelters, and roughly half must
be euthanized because there simply aren’t enough good homes for them.
Most of the millions of dogs who are abandoned and euthanized are