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9:36 AM Sat, Sept. 22nd

World’s Ugliest Dog Contest awards underdogs’ inner beauty

The annual World’s Ugliest Dog Contest celebrates homely pooches for their inner beauty in Petaluma, California. This is 2014 winner, Peanut, a 2-year-old mutt.  (AP Photo/George Nikitin, File)

The annual World’s Ugliest Dog Contest celebrates homely pooches for their inner beauty in Petaluma, California. This is 2014 winner, Peanut, a 2-year-old mutt. (AP Photo/George Nikitin, File)

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2015 top winner Quasi Modo. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

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2016 First Place winner SweePee Rambo, a 17-year-old Chinese Crested Chihuahua. (Alvin Jornada/The Press Democrat via AP, File)

PETALUMA, Calif. (AP) — The World’s Ugliest Dog Contest is celebrating man’s best friend’s perfect imperfections in California on Friday.

The pooches — many of which are adoptable or previously adopted — will face off in a red carpet walk and “Faux Paw Fashion Show,” organizers said. The contestants are judged on first impressions, unusual attributes, personality and audience reaction.

A blind Chihuahua-Chinese Crested mix named Sweepee Rambo bested 16 other homely hounds in last year’s competition and waddled away with $1,500, a trophy and a flight to New York with her owner, Jason Wurtz, for media appearances. The then-17-year-old champion proved that third time’s the charm after falling short in the competition twice before.

By celebrating inner beauty, organizers said they hope to showcase that all dogs, regardless of physical appearance, can be lovable additions to any family.

Contest rules prevent owners from intentionally altering their animals to enhance appearance for the purpose of the contest. These pooches are celebrated for their natural ugliness, organizers said.

Besides the main crown, the Spirit Award is presented to a dog and owner who have overcome obstacles or provide service to their community, organizers said.

The competition has been held in Petaluma for more than 50 years but is in its 29th year at the Sonoma-Marin Fair.