Look-alike pets, owners vie for prizes

Many in Carroll County went to the dogs -- or the cats or the fish -- yesterday when they attended either the animal look-alike contest in Mount Airy or the fifth annual Open House at the Humane Society on Littlestown Pike in Union Mills.

In the first of what is expected to be an annual owner-pet look-alike contest held in the Twin Arch Shopping Center, Bob Zupnik and his large, powerful mastiff portrayed "couch potatoes." The pair, wearing similar bandannas, baseball caps and sweat shirts, won first place.


Mr. Zupnik, who lives in Germantown, participated at the suggestion of his wife, Helen, who saw a newspaper ad for the contest and suggested he and the dog enter because "they look so much alike."

Second place went to Star Leyda of the Gaithersburg area and her Pomeranian, whose hair style and color -- golden red -- matched perfectly, the contest judges decided.


Third place went to Brittany Grimm, a 7-year-old student at Lisbon Elementary School. She and her short-haired cat, "Daisy," wore matching canary costumes. She and her sisters have two cats, one rabbit and two fish.

Leandra Grimm, who is a year older and attends the same school, wore a costume matching the colors of her fish: purple at the head shading to white at the tail and fins. Leandra's outfit won the Most Original category in the contest, which was sponsored by "A Dog's Best Friend" pet shop at the center.

The judges were Beth Bonde, who is Miss Carroll County Fire Prevention, and Cynthia Bullough, who works in a hair salon nearby.

Ms. Bullough said she was amazed that 15 people turned out for the contest, and said her attention went immediately to Mr. Zupnik and his dog, whose facial expressions were a perfect match.

During the open house at the Humane Society, more than 300 people visited the shelter to view the adoption rooms, indoor and outdoor kennel runs, and the animals being held there.

Nicky Ratcliff, the shelter's director, said the staff of four animal control officers picked up 1,766 stray dogs and cats and received 1,970 animals turned in by their owners last year. She said 35 percent of the strays were returned to their owners, who either saw the listing of found animals in the newspaper or called the shelter looking for the lost pet.

In 1991, the shelter staff answered more than 3,900 complaints, taking court action in very few of those cases.

The 1992 budget of $350,000 allows the shelter to maintain four clean vans for the transportation of dogs, cats, raccoons, snakes and other creatures found throughout the county.


Ms. Ratcliff said, "If I cannot sit in any one of those vans with the doors closed and eat my lunch without being offended by the odor, it will be cleaned again."

One of the unusual guests at the shelter is a Mount Airy goat known as the "escape artist" because he is able to work his way out of his owner's high fence and has been "arrested" several times roaming the neighborhood, officials said.

In 1992, rabies has been found in one bat, two cats, six raccoons, two groundhogs and one skunk in the county.