Cutest Puppy Contest held at Fitgers

DULUTH, Minn. — Walking through a hallway of Duluth’s most adorable puppies may sound like a dream, but it came true once again as 40 puppies, from the ages of 4 to 9 months, got a chance to prove that they are the cutest of them all.

The event was free and open to the public with ballots being handed out to visitors as they walked through the building, and heard dozens of dogs begging for attention. Visitors could then enter their top pick of any of the young pups.

“It feels great, in the past we have had about 700 people that actually voted, so it makes us feel great,” said Fitgers Mall Manager Tammi Tanski-Sherman. “There’s a lot of outdoor activities going on today and the people that enjoy the outdoors are out there, and the people that would rather be warm are at Fitgers right now looking at the cutest puppies.”

The puppies ranged from beautiful Huskies to energetic Labadors, and even fluffy Newfoundllands. Some of the contestants preferred voters to come to them, and some decided to put on a show, but they all loved the attention they were receiving. And it seemed they were most happy to have the children’s attention

“It’s really fun it’s a good community event, brings everybody together, just to see all the puppies which is really cool,” said dog owner Hayley Raatsi.

Unlike past years, this year’s contest was pre-register only, meaning the well behaved candidates got to prepare for their big day. The event happens as lead up to the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, kicking off at Billy’s Bar tomorrow. The races start at 10 a.m. and there is a chance for you to meet the mushing teams beforehand.

“There’s no words to describe it, but it’s just very encouraging that all these people support the Beargrease or just puppies in general,’ said Beargrease Board Director Jean Vincent. “So the fact that they come back year after year and want to support the race or the organization in that way is amazing and it’s a testament to, you know, strong partnerships in the community of Duluth.”

At the end of the day, there must be a winner and a young pup named Jack took home the 1st place title. A little dog named Freya took second. An although he may look big, puppy Tank placed 3rd.

Hayley Raatsi is the owner of 9 month old lab Kiriil, who is named after the star Minnesota Wild Player. Although he didn’t win, he loved the spotlight.

“There’s a lot of people here, and Kirill is just a fan of it, he loves seeing everybody, seeing all the puppies and getting all the pets,” said Raatsi.

Each of the winners got a prize basket and a medal. But all contestants were very good dogs.

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