The first ever city of Chicago dog of distinction has been chosen.
A cute chocolate Lab puppy was crowned Friday as the new face of pet registration through the City Clerk's Dog of Distinction program.
Wilma, owned by Gregg Szymanski, took home the grand prize and bragging rights of being the face of dog registration.
"Wilma loves long walks in bungalow-filled neighborhoods," said City Clerk Susana Mendoza. "And she loves to bark at garbage men in the alley, as do some of us, so I think Wilma is a good representative, and she also, and very timely so, loves playing at the dog beach."
The City Clerk’s office, which manages the city dog registration program, created the contest in an effort to encourage more dog owners to register their pets. The contest for man’s best friend launched in January and ended May 16, and nearly 2,000 votes were cast by the public on the City Clerk's website, according to a City of Chicago press release.
Mendoza said dog owners will feel more comfortable taking their dogs to the beach or dog park if they are confident that neigboring dogs are healthy and have been vaccinated and registered with the city.
"When dogs are registered with the city, we are able to verify that those dogs are indeed vaccinateed for rabies," said Mendoza.
Registered pets were automatically entered into the contest. Several Chicago businesses donated prizes including the grand prize, a custom designed dog tag with topaz and rubies, created by The Goldsmith, ltd.
"It's a double wammy of good stuff," said Mendoza.
She said the city recently passed an ordainance that elimates the $1 surcharge to purchase the dog registration online which cost $5 for neutered or spayed pets.
"We made it very very easy for people to be in compliance with the law and that was the genesis of this contest," said Mendoza.
The City Clerk’s office reported an increase of 122-percent in dog registrations since the promotion began. This summer, Animal Care & Control plans to increase enforcement of the dog registration law.
All Dog of Distinction prizes were donated to the city at no additional cost to Chicago taxpayers.