It was a heated competition between the top three Pet Halloween Costume contestants: Loula, Carlee and Pepper. In the end, Loula took top honors with over 1600 votes; her owners ultimately donating the $100 Shaggy Chic Pet Boutique gift card to the Agoura Hills Animal Shelter.
As part of the first-place prize, we promised to feature the winning pooch in an article; however, each of this year’s top vote-getters has a unique and touching back-story. So in the spirit of the coming holidays, we decided to profile each of them.
Loula has spent the past nine years living in a loving home with Lynni Mendoza-Anaya and Norma Anaya. Unfortunately, her life didn’t start out that way. Back in 2006, Mendoza-Anaya’s father-in-law had come for a visit. “At the time, we had just adopted a six-month-old Jack Russell, Chihuahua mix who we loved dearly,” she recalled. “He admired how well we took care of the dog and told us that he had just visited a friend who’d gotten a puppy for his seven-year-old daughter as a gift.”
Mendoza-Anaya explained that the child mistreated the puppy, giving commands which the dog did not understand. “The girl would punish her physically for not doing what she asked,” she said.
After hearing the story, Mendoza-Anaya told her father-in-law, “Let’s go get her.” Seeing the error of his ways, the father handed the puppy, Loula, over to Anaya and Mendoza-Anaya. “When we brought her home, she was so traumatized; everything scared her,” she said. “We couldn’t pick up a shoe or a fly swatter without the dog cowering in fear.”
It took time, love and patience, but the couple managed to integrate Loula into her rapidly growing family made up of dogs, cats and a tortoise.
Mendoza-Anaya said the main reason she wanted to win the contest was to get her message out to the public. “Please do not adopt a pet unless you are responsible,” she said. “They are not toys.”
Ironically, Mendoza-Anaya says Loula loves kids. “She’s happy, bubbly and full of energy,” she reports. “She loves people, especially children.”
The following is Carlee’s story as told by her “mom,” Cindi Whitcomb:
[Carlee] was brought to the shelter at four weeks old by a backyard breeder to be euthanized, because she is not “perfect!” She has Cerebellar Hypolasia, which is similar to Cerebral Palsy for humans. Well they contacted the dog rescue I volunteer at, and they took her in. At eight weeks, I became Carlee’s foster mom. I took her to the vet where I was told she was “unviable!” Well … those were fighting words to me. So Carlee and I and the whole team of “Carlee’s Angels” we put together at Tiny Loving Canines (TLC) made it our mission to give her the best quality of life she would have for as long as she would be with us … Those were apparently fighting words to Carlee as well. She IS viable and has beaten all the odds and is my foster failure, which means I outright adopted her! She is now a year-and-a-half old (not bad for unviable)…She is a crazy, determined, beautiful, loving, social, playful, spitfire, and PERFECT to me little girl! This is her journey, and I am happy to share it with you!
Whitcomb told CV Happening that the primary reason she wanted Carlee to win the contest was so she could tell her story, to let readers know that every pet has a fighting chance to live a happy, fulfilled life. To follow Carlee’s journey, go to her Facebook page.
Our third runner up, Pepper, a 14-year old terrier mix that was turned in to the Agoura Shelter by his previous owner, was adopted during the contest! Great news!